School: St. Joseph Seminary College75376 River RoadSt. Benedict, LA 70457
I’m a third generation Puerto Rican. I grew up in Dunkirk NY (A little town outside of Buffalo).
From New York, I moved to Miami and later to Naples FL. The latter half of my Freshman year of High School, I moved to Douglasville. I have four younger siblings: three sister and a brother. I come from a family so large, that if you’re older than me and you’re a woman, you’re automatically my “Tia” “aunt” even if you’re just my cousin.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love to read. Some of my favorite books are True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary By St. Louis de Monfort, An Introduction to the Devout life by St. Francis de Sales, and The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguouri. I also hand make chain and cord rosaries.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
“Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13: 13-14
Who is your favorite saint and why?
My relationships with the Saints is a huge part of my devotional life, and there are so many that I rely on (Maria Goretti, Elizabeth of the Trinity, James Alberione). If I have to choose one, I’d go with my Confirmation Saint, St. John the Baptist. St. John was a man of integrity, courage, and conviction. He was a lover of Truth and justice, and a zealous preacher of God’s law. He was the kind of preacher who could give you a kick in the back and still have you wanting more. Above all, he was unshakably humble, neither praise, nor insult would sway him, he lived only to make Christ known and to decrease in the process.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
My vocation has been a response to a gradual call that has grown in my soul. This call began after my first Holy Communion and grew steadily. Although I wasn’t raised in a particularly religious family, God put in my heart a desire for meaning, for morals, and ultimately for Himself. After being disassociated from the faith for many years, my grandma began forcing me to attend Mass with her. On many occasions I would avoid going to Mass any way that I could. Eventually this exposure, and God’s grace began to work on me, leading me to Himself with little lights in the people and situations that I encountered. I started to seriously examine myself and question who I am considering who God is and what His Church’s mission is. Along my existential journey I was supported by many good Catholics that I had met, they showed me what it looked like to live a life in Christ. This journey led me to meeting Jesus personally in the sacrament of Confession. After that confession (my second ever) I knew what it was to, “live in the freedom of the children of God.” This freedom and healing that I experienced just because of a guy behind a screen waving his hand around and telling me that I’m forgiven and that I’m loved made me wonder how I could bring that same profound, personal healing to the brokenness that I saw in my family and in my friends. After that Confession a period of my life started where I was attending Mass, and eventually Altar serving, lectoring, and participating in the youth group. I even began teaching Catechism and was considered a “leader” in the youth group. All of this was just strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation. After my Confirmation I was totally on fire with a love for Jesus and His Church. I really started to live for Him. The possibility of seminary started to surface, and I realized that I could be that bridge for people’s woundedness and God’s healing Mercy like that priest was for me. I applied to for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and was accepted as a seminarian in June of 2017. I have been faithfully discerning God’s call ever since. Because I’ve said yes to Jesus, I am filled with so much peace and so much joy in this journey that I am taking with Christ, towards the priesthood.
What is seminary life like for you?
There is nothing in the world like seminary life. Seminary is a place where immense growth and healing takes place despite a tough schedule and irritating brother seminarians. You’ll never meet a more virtuous or talented group of men than here in seminary. If you’re enter seminary, chances are, you were the “weird guy” in the youth group, and even if you weren’t you can imagine that that is where all the “weird guys” are with all their talent and ability to challenge and inspire. Seminary life has its ups and downs, but if you come with a sincere desire to know God’s will then you will quickly fall in love with it. The obligations here pull on you from all directions with study, prayer, friends, and alone time, this is all to expand your heart so that you can live for Christ and for His people.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
I look forward to offering Mass to intercede for God’s people and I look forward to bringing God’s grace to souls through the other Sacrament, especially Confession.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Open your heart to God and answer His call zealously. If you want to enter seminary, there is no rush. Allow for this call to mature and be sure to speak with both your spiritual director and the Vocation director. Grow in a deeper relationship with Our Lady, she is the Mother of Jesus (the High Priest) and the Mother of all priests. She will help you discern God’s call and she will help you to follow her Son’s call. Pray the Rosary often, no prayer is a waste of time!! When you meditate on the Life of Jesus, you begin to see the mysteries of His Life, Passion, and Resurrection in your own life and you begin to live them out. They become your strength and a powerful means of uniting all the joys and sorrows of your life to the life of Christ. And go to Adoration as often as possible, I promise that you will discover the man that God is calling you to be if you frequently kneel at His feet in the Blessed Sacrament and ask Him perseveringly with humility. Lastly, GO TO CONFESSION! Confession has helped my spiritual life by making me recognize and address my flaws and the sins that keep me from living a life completely for Christ.