>By EDSON ELIZARRARAS
I grew up in a normal home where I always enjoyed the love of wonderful parents and siblings. Since my childhood, as far back as I can remember, my family has led a simple life but it’s a very close-knit family. My parents taught me moral values, especially to respect God, other people, and myself.
My first calling occurred when, at five years of age, I was serving in my community as an altar boy. I was drawn to the image of the priest, everything he did, being with the sick, with the children, always helping. I experienced that from a very young age and I wanted to be like my town’s pastor. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I decided to answer this great call, to follow what I knew deep inside was unmistakably directing me to join the seminary. To this day, I feel it was a rather difficult decision, because I am aware at all times that I have a mission and a responsibility to heaven, that I am always going to be accountable to God.
I cannot but thank God for all the priests that have been a part of my life’s most important moments, like the priests that administered the sacraments to me; and those present during difficult times in my life, such as the loss of my sister, Jessy. And there’s also the priests who were part of my youth and the evangelization movement “Arcoíris”, who helped me get to know Christ, my Friend, more intimately.
God willing, and the Church willing, I want to be a priest too. I see myself in the future, a humble, humane priest, but above all, joyful, bringing hope to the neediest. A priest who loves sinners and is excited about preaching the Gospel. I see myself as a priest who gives of himself until it hurts out of love for the Church and for God’s children. A priest that can be another Christ, and that can say, like Saint Paul the Apostle, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” I want to be a priest who is always willing to serve and to love even in the midst of sorrow, so that the light of Christ will reach those who have no one to bring it to them. A priest that when his time in this world is over, will leave behind a mark, “Christ’s mark, the Lord’s sweet smell.”
When I think of being a priest in the future, the greatest joy is that I will be able to celebrate the great sacrifice, the great event in all of creation, Jesus Christ on the cross, Jesus Christ on the altar, the Holy Eucharist; me, an unworthy mediator between God and man bringing reconciliation and forgiveness for our sins.
If you, as a young man, sense a growing interest in the priesthood, listen to that voice inside of you, tap into it, don’t silence it. Completely surrender yourself to Jesus Christ, giving him your most precious gift: your life. Second only to life itself, being a priest is the greatest gift; man, weak and limited, may be called to be part of this great mystery. And it’s not just that it is such a special gift, but it is also God’s way of manifesting Himself to humanity through the priestly ministry.
I have placed my vocation in the hands of our Most Holy Mother. It is to Mary I speak in every Rosary, I know she’s the one who guides me, I know that Mary leads me to Jesus. I am devoted to my sweet virgin, my morenita, my Virgen de Guadalupe.
I consider myself a typical young person of the times, wanting to live in tune with the principles of my faith. In my spare time, I like to entertain myself listening to music, chatting, going to the movies, and working out. I wish to enjoy everything in life, the small things and the big ones.
For me, a good day at the seminary is having the satisfaction of getting to the end of the day and not having anything pending. I start my day with a personal prayer and then I head for the chapel to pray with the community and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together. Later, I spend part of the morning and some of the afternoon attending classes, and I wrap up my day spending time with my brothers from the seminary. Truly, I never imagined what a wonderful time I would have at the seminary, and I have discovered the richness of living in community with other young men who, like me, are responding to the same calling. It’s awesome!
Many of you might be surprised to know that I enjoy the adrenaline rush from off-roading.
Edson is a 3rd year college student at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore.
Alan Valencia is a 4th year college student at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon..