How I got a life
A question led him to his true vocation
I left the seminary because I wanted to be a good priest. I had always been involved in the church because of the influence of my older sister, who was a catechist back in our village in Mexico. And when we immigrated to Chicago, I became involved in a parish and later in a youth group. While there, I felt a vocation to the priesthood and went to the seminary.
I did not leave because I had a bad experience. In my desire to serve God and the people of God better, however, I started to think that I had never had a paying job. How could I speak to the people if I did not know anything about their experience? Theological ideas did not seem enough: I had to speak about an incarnate God who understood their reality. So I decided to go out and get more real-life experience.
I got a job with the Department of Children and Family Services, where I came in contact with the pain and the depths of human sin. I also found a part-time job in campus ministry at DePaul University.
All this time I wanted to continue developing my relationship with God and my spirituality, and eventually God showed me my way as a lay Franciscan. One of the students at DePaul, a Franciscan priest, invited me to consider this vocation. I researched Francis’ and Clare’s lives and everything Franciscan, and felt deeply attracted to the simplicity of living the gospel in daily life.
I went to an orientation meeting for laypeople interested in the “Third Order.” That was it. Since then I have been part of this community, which supports me, gives me life, and challenges me to live that simple gospel life. I am now the coordinator of our community and represent the order nationally and internationally.
I now realize that what I thought was part of my preparation for the priesthood was part of God’s plan to help me discover my lay vocation. There is little written about the theology and spirituality of the laity, and I think I have something to contribute to the development of a theology of incarnation. That is my call.
- In what ways do you think God may be calling you to a responsible and realistic way of service?