By TIMOTHY J. PEARSON
I grew up in a very loving family, and extended family. I come from a family that it doesn’t matter if you’re the aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent or whatever, you are family no matter what. When it comes to my immediate family, it is just my mom Yvonne, my dad Ron, my brother Cody, my sister-in-law Tiffany, and my niece Allizza.
I grew up originally in New Mexico, but came to Arizona when I was about six years old. I can remember always getting together with my family in New Mexico all the time. I always, and even now, look forward to seeing my family. To me that is what a good time is all about. We get together most of the time, and have a big cookout and sit around talking. Even if we just saw each other two weeks ago, we talk as if we hadn’t seen each other in years. We sit around talking and eating good food that my tías make, and listen to my grandfather play music. This is the kind of home that I grew up in, a very Hispanic family, but also a very loving family.
-When did you first think about becoming a priest?
I first thought about becoming a priest at a very young age, I think I was eight years old. But growing up I never really took it seriously. I was an altar boy and loved helping out in the church, but I also loved the social life, being with my family and friends. It wasn’t until I was a junior or senior in high school that I really started to think seriously about being a priest.
If you were to ask me what I wanted to do after I graduated from high school, when I was in high school, you would probably get an answer like, go to the military, or become a cop, or go to the U of A and get my music major, or something like that. If you were to ask me if I have ever thought about becoming a priest, I would answer and say “yeah, but I don’t know if it is for me.”
-Did you have a priest you looked up to in your youth?
One priest that I looked up to when I was younger was Father Rudy Rosales, who is now the pastor at Holy Angels Parish in Globe. I admired him or looked up to him, because he always seemed to know exactly what he wanted, and he was not afraid to ask for help achieving his goals either. To me he was a very holy man, someone who could speak of Our Lady of Guadalupe with such eloquence that it gave you chills on your spine. In my mind, I wanted to be a priest like him, one, because to me he was a real priest, involved in the community and cared for his parish very much, and two, because he, like me, had a very big devotion to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
-What do you envision your priesthood to be?
I envision my priesthood to be a happy and joyous time, but also one of self-sacrifice to God and to others. I see it as being a lifelong Lenten journey, with an emphasis on the self-sacrificing aspect of it, and not in the strictest manner either. I see it as a giving of myself to others, and to the Church.
-What is your greatest joy as you contemplate the priesthood?
Well there are many joys for me as I contemplate priesthood, but one of them is just being able to make the Lord present at the Mass, for me, that is the biggest joy. Also, second to that, just knowing that I would be able to help people in ways that doctors, or physicians can, helping people reach their full potential in their spiritual lives, as well as they helping me!
-What do you tell someone who is considering the priesthood?
I would tell them that it is not an easy journey, that it is very hard. But just because it is hard, does not mean that it is not enjoyable. I thank God each and every day for my vocation, for letting me be here in the seminary, studying. It is hard to leave your home and your family behind, and there are times when it does bring you down, but when you look at the brighter side of it, God is calling you to something so much more.
-Do you have a favorite devotion?
I am very Guadalupano, or I have a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I have a devotion to her, because she asked a humble Indian, Juan Diego, to carry her message to the Bishop, but at all stages of Juan Diego’s journey she always reminded him that she is always with him. I take that same message to my heart and count on Blessed Mother to be there with me always, as I make my journey to the priesthood.
-How do you relax? Do you have a favorite vacation and/or retreat spot?
For me, I love being outside, and walking around. I like going to new places and seeing new things, I am not one to sit around inside all day, even if it is raining. One of my most favorite places to go is to San Diego. My family and I always try to go there every few years or so. But when I am stuck in my room, like at the end of the day, I like to relax by drinking hot coffee and reading, or talking with some close friends about whatever there is to talk about.
-Describe a good day at the seminary.
A good day in the seminary would be getting in some time to exercise and work out. A really good day would be completing all the readings that I have for the next day. It’s a busy life, I enjoy it.
-Finish this sentence: “It would surprise people to know …that I am Hispanic, from both sides of my family, and also that I play the trumpet, guitar and the accordion, and that I am in a music group here at the seminary that plays Spanish music for different functions.”
T.J. Pearson is a third-year college seminarian at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore. His home parish is Sacred Heart in Clifton, Ariz.