By ALAN VALENCIA
I have a small, however, very loving family. My household consists of my loving mother and grandmother and myself. I was born in Nogales, Arizona, but was raised in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
As a child, I remember how my mother and grandmother taught me right from wrong and how I should always strive to do what is right. I remember how both my grandmother and mother also taught me my first prayers. They taught me that Jesus Christ was my best friend and that I was His. I also have very fond memories of when they took me to Sunday Mass, where as a child I mostly fell asleep. Eventually, with the help of my mother and grandmother I began to understand what Mass was all about.
When did you first think about becoming a priest? As a child I wanted to become a doctor, but never did I ever think of becoming a doctor of souls. After receiving my first communion I wanted to become an altar server, and so I did. As an altar server, I wondered what and how much a priest studied (but) I did not think much more beyond that. It wasn’t until I was on my fourth year at U of A that I began to entertain the idea of the priesthood. Thinking about the priesthood became so intense that I could no longer concentrate in my classes. It was only then that I realized that God was calling me to follow him more intensely. I then decided to approach my pastor and tell him that I wanted to become a priest.
Did you have a priest you looked up to in your youth? When I was 20 I attended the Arco-Iris youth group at Sacred Heart Parish. As a result of this, my life changed, and I met Father Martin Martinez. I consider Father Martinez a Christ-like example. Father Martinez encouraged me to pursue my vocation and helped me through the entire application and discernment process. Today he still supports my vocation, gives me advice, pushes me to persevere and is an inspiration to my vocation of the priesthood.
What do you envision your priesthood to be? This is a hard question to answer; however, I do want my priesthood to be a faithful service to the Church. I want to be a priest that follows the teachings of the Church; with a good prayerful life so I can serve the people of God in their many needs. I want to help the youth be young men and women of Christ. I want to be a bridge for the people of God and not an obstacle.
What is your greatest joy as you contemplate the priesthood? My greatest joy is to think of one day having the opportunity of being able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Another of my greatest joys is having the unique opportunity as a young priest of being able to bring people, especially the youth, closer to God. These joys, God willing, will one day be a present reality in my life.
What do you tell someone who is considering the priesthood? I would tell him to trust in God and pursue with the idea of entering the seminary. All you need is the desire to learn more about the priesthood in order to discern in a seminary. You cannot say it is not for you until you try it firsthand. Trust in God and He will not disappoint.
Do you have a favorite devotion? My favorite devotion is to the Virgin Mary; I feel very at peace when I pray the rosary. Another of my favorite devotions is prayers and novenas to the Divino Niño Jesus. Both my grandmother and mother taught me such devotions. I have beautiful memories of my mother and grandmother praying to both the Virgin Mary and to the Divino Niño Jesus. Both the Virgin Mary and the Divino Niño Jesus kept me at peace while discerning enrollment to seminary.
How do you relax? Do you have a favorite vacations and/or retreat spot? Maintaining prayer and knowing that my relationship with God keeps growing is what keeps me relaxed and give me a sense of tranquility. I also like to read and watch movies when I have time to relax. I also relax by exercising, especially running around the hill of the seminary. My favorite vacation place is home, where I can be with my family. I treasure family and enjoy every minute I am with them.
Describe a good day at the seminary. A good day at the seminary is one that is not raining! However, besides the weather, when I have many tasks to accomplish and have limited time to do so is always a good day; it gives a real sense, especially at the end of the day, of working hard and getting tired for Christ.
Finish this sentence: “It would surprise people to know…I love silence.”
Alan Valencia is a 4th year college student at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon..