I lived in Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes, Mexico until I was 11. I have six siblings, three brothers and three sisters, I am the youngest.
Home parish: In Mexico, Jesus Nazareno in Jesus Maria, Aguascalientes. Over here, Our Lady of Victories in Cleveland
Favorite Saints and why?
St. Augustine, St. John Bosco, St. Francis de Sales, St. Therese of Calcutta, St. John Marie Vianney, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II. I think I like them because of their deep love for God and for the people, their closeness to the people of God and their care for them made a great impact in my life.
Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
Our Lady of Guadalupe, first because I am a Mexican and second because I know that she has accompanied me right from the beginning of my Christian life, since the parish where I was baptized was named after her. My devotion to her began even before I meet Christ. When I was probably around 6 years old, I used to take my grandma’s Bible – which I could not read – but I used to look at the pictures in it and right at the beginning of this Bible was the story of the apparition of Our Lady … The picture that stayed in my mind was the one where she cured uncle Bernardino, in it there is Our Lady, uncle Bernardino, a skeleton and an angel defeating it.
Who vested you at ordination and why?
Father Kent Bowlds, because besides Father Matthew Simmons, he has been my biggest supporter together with Our Lady of Victories Parish since I came here.
In what parishes have you served?
St. Francis of Assisi in Brookhaven, St. Mary in Batesville, St. Therese in Jackson, and at least ten parishes in the Diocese of Morelia.
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story ?
The first time I can remember that priesthood came to my mind was when I was around 6 years old. It was a Sunday, I was walking with my cousin’s wife Concha and I remember telling her that I wanted to become a priest. She asked me why then I said to her, because all priests go to heaven. I was scared because the day before our catechist taught us about hell and heaven. The way she depicted hell to us was so shocking that I decided to become a priest in order to escape from it.
The second time was when I was around 16 years old. I was heartbroken for my family situation. My parents separated …and my mother moved away. Two of my aunts from my mom’s side, insisted I live with them. My grandma was a woman who was in love with our blessed Lord. She constantly insisted all her children and grandchildren go to confession and receive Holy Communion.
My aunts introduced me to the life of prayer which I had forgotten during my teenage years. At the beginning I thought they were crazy, asking me to go and give thanks in front of what for me was nothing. To please them, I just began talking to the Lord as if he really existed. Later they invited me to participate in the Mass by reading on Sundays. … I met my pastor whose name was Tirso Sanchez Cruz … who inspired me because even when he was an old priest he seemed to never get tired. He was tireless disciple of the Lord, joyful man, and full of energy. These characteristics made me wonder where all that energy and happiness come from.
I experienced a year of consolation from the Lord. That year, attending Mass after Mass was a taste of heaven. One Sunday I spend the entire day helping Mass after Mass and there were six Masses at that time and I did not experience boredom, it was one of the happiest days of my life …
Time passed I began to work and get busy and I forgot about the seminary. I had to work to pay rent, bills, and food and contribute to the house. I began to hang out with friends and forget about God but I was not happy. … Finally, trying to get away from the noises of the city and society, I decided to come to the United States … to look for a quiet place to meditate and to find the reason for my sadness. … I spent hours and hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking the Lord for answers and strength. He listened to my prayers and took away from me a depression which I had been suffering since I remember … When my depression was gone, I told to the Lord, now I am ready to follow you …. But I think it was not my time yet …
I had an accident in a truck I did not own, so had to pay for it and for the other car and for the penalty fee. I had to wait until I finish paying to think about going to the seminary. That time was useful because I came down from heaven and set once again my foot on earth.
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
That some of my friends have inviting me to join their dioceses because there are more benefits but I have rejected their invitation because from the beginning of my vocation I have asked God to serve the poor and he heard my petition and he has sent me to serve in one of the poorest dioceses in the United States. I am planning to serve in this diocese at least until retirement and I thank you for your support and prayers.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Do not be afraid, come and see, “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” There is not boss like him; he will fulfill your heart’s desires. Seminary life is not like you think, we pray, we play, we live, we enjoy, we love, we laugh, we learn, we are transformed by Christ. Come and see and if this is not your vocation you are free to leave. But be sure that your life will not be the same because spending a period of time with the Lord will change your life.
Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
Celebrating the sacraments of course, especially the sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharist because those sacraments I believe are the ones that can bring people closer to God. I also look forward to serve in this diocese because I have seen the need we have of priests.
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
I am looking forward to establishing a good relationship with both the pastor and the community. I am looking forward to the new experiences that God has reserved for me in that parish.