On May 26, two men presented themselves for the next step in their journey into service to the marginalized of our world in the context of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission.
They began their journeys because of the joy they observed in the lives of two Vincentians, Fr. Vince Finnerty and Alfonso Cabezas, Bishop emeritus of Villavicencio, Colombia. Our confrere Bishop ordained the men as deacons, imposing hands on them and handing to them the book of the Gospel they are to preach and serve.
“Here I am Lord,” one of the most popular hymns, Catholic or Protestant, in the English language, captures much of the meaning of the day. Based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3, it captures the age-old elements of the call and journey to service — fear and excitement, confusion and courage.
Leo, originally from Cholula Puebla, Mexico, a state in the highlands of south-central Mexico, spent most of his young life living in and working in Charlotte, NC. In 2014, he first encountered the Vincentians through Father Vincent Finnerty, CM, an active Vincentian priest at Tiburcio’s parish. Leo felt drawn to the work he witnessed Father Finnerty undertaking in the community and the happiness Father Finnerty exuded daily.
What he witnessed and experienced in his local parish was different from anything in his past. Every Sunday he felt struck by the Masses and a calm sense of peace remained inside of him. A friendship grew between Leo and Father Finnerty, who invited Leo on a retreat to meet the other Vincentians. Leo reflects on a time when Father Finnerty told him that God wanted something else from him. Soon after, in 2009, Leo decided to follow this calling and moved to New York to enter the seminary.
Leo admits he felt scared to leave behind the life he had always known in North Carolina but reminds others that even when you have fear, God will help us overcome those scary moments. “In the end, we find ourselves gaining something much more than we ever imagined.” Leo has found peace and happiness in the seminary, and, although fear creeps in, he finds excitement as he embarks on the next step of his vocation. He finds joy knowing he will be returning to Charlotte, NC, which will give him the chance to give back to a community from which he learned so much while growing up.
Luis Romero grew up in a small town in El Salvador, and from a young age knew the religious life was for him. As a boy, Luis would see the joy that overtook his community when priests visited and said Mass. When he saw this happiness he knew he wanted to bring that same joy to others throughout his life.
In 2007, his family moved to Uniondale, NY, where Luis met Bishop Cabezas, a Vincentian who currently resides on Long Island, and celebrated the Spanish Mass that Romero regularly attended. Luis, drawn to the Vincentian lifestyle, decided to enter the seminary in New York in 2018.
Currently, Luis is excited to bring God’s word to the poor and help bring people back to the Sacraments, specifically the Eucharist. He offers advice to other young men, “There will always be fear and doubt, but the most important thing to remember is to trust in God. If you are being called to the religious life, God will be by your side, working with you when times are difficult.”
If this journey of service interests you, we invite you to lend your time, talent or treasure the Congregation of the Mission Eastern Province by contacting this website.