By Fr. Javier Reyes, CMF
I was about eight years old when one day after Sunday Mass I said to my parents: “I want to be a priest.” It was quite a surprise for them! I was born and raised in Valparaiso, Zacatecas, Mexico. In a hardworking family, my father was a construction worker and my mother a stay-at-home mom. I am the third of five siblings. Since we were little, we were instilled the value of faith and hard work. Just like any other kid in town, every Sunday I attended Mass and religious education. I went to public school, played soccer, danced, and sometimes my parents would reprimand me for my mischief. I insisted so much in going to the seminary that when I was fifteen my parents allow me to go to the diocesan seminary. They thought that I would change my mind in a couple of months and come back home. Once I was there, I became passionate about the mission and priestly ministry. I was there for eleven years. During that time, I faced doubts and challenges; this life would not be the same without moments of trial and difficulty. At the age of twenty-five, after I had completed my priestly formation, I left my journey to the priesthood for some time. I spent some time with my family and in 2010 I came to the United States, like so many, after the “American dream.”
Soon after coming to the States, I became a volunteer at St. Joseph Church in Addison, IL. I started giving talks to young adults, helped with liturgy, and accompanied the priest to radio shows. This priest asked me to reconsider my priestly vocation again. I was hesitant and unsure. It was at this time when I met the Claretians, I fell in love with the community and the work of the missionaries, especially working with the Hispanic community, accompaniment of immigrants, and working with young people in campus ministry.
I professed perpetual vows of chastity, obedience and poverty in August 2016 and was ordained to the priesthood in May of 2017. I have been doing Campus Ministry for the last five years. As a missionary, I have experienced what one of my professors told me in the classroom: “Our first task in approaching another people and another culture is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dreams.” I have learned that the experience, context, and reality of every single student must be respected and valued, and that God is at work in mysterious and surprising ways. I do not regret following this journey. All these years, the Lord has showed me that his love and compassion are limitless. Like Father Anthony Mary Claret, I strive to see to it that God be known, served, and loved by everyone.
Do you feel called to be a Claretian or to learn more about community? Contact our Vocation Director today!