My encounter with discerning the Catholic priesthood was gradual, yet powerful. I grew up in a loving, Catholic-Hispanic home but was a bit of an introvert while at Most Holy Trinity Elementary School. I sought to find a hobby to which I could dedicate myself and was able to find my “niche” in sixth grade by altar serving. It was here that the seeds of discernment began to be planted as I became very attentive to the Holy Mass and parishioners would tell me that I would make a great priest. It was not, however, until sophomore year that I truly became open to the Lord’s call.
While at a Steubenville Conference, before the Blessed Sacrament, I received the Lord’s Love in a personal way that made me realize that I was not a face in the crowd, the Lord knew me by name and He was calling me to be a saint. This changed my life dramatically because it gave me the graces to focus on enriching my faith in youth group, to strive to serve God in a more committed way, and to not fear the idea of priesthood. Gradually, as I continued my time at St. Mary’s High School, I realized with much peace, joy, and excitement that the Lord wanted me to enter seminary right after graduation. I applied and was accepted as a seminarian in June 2011.
As I’ve been in seminary, the Lord’s presence has continued to be with me and has guided me as I progress in formation. This presence has been most tangible in the grief and healing I have experienced after the deaths of my brother and father. As a result, I have come to learn that it is His Love that has sustained me as I am formed, tested and given the graces needed to be a spiritual father for the Diocese of Phoenix.