Ordained for a journey of love and hope
By Benjamin Romero-Arrieta, C.M.F.
There are two moments in my religious life that I will never forget. The first was when the candidates who were ordained into the deaconate laid face down on the floor, while those gathered to witness our ordination were on their knees praying fervently to the saints, entrusting them with our lives, so we may also continue our commitment and service as they themselves had done in their historic moment.
During the short time I laid on the floor, dispossessed, vulnerable and before God, my life experiences came to mind; those which gave meaning and built the lifestyle that I felt called to follow. This was definitely a great moment of encounter with God. His presence was alive and real in the prayers of those who witnessed this celebration of life and commitment.
The second memorable moment came when the bishop laid his hands on me. Words cannot describe what happen. It was as if I had received a vigorous push to continue taking on the mission of giving testimony of the Gospel in this world filled with challenges and uncertainties. These moments remind me of the words of St. Paul when he said that the Spirit works in us. That power invades humanity and pushes it to continue the journey.
This event occurred on February 3, 2011, when five Claretian seminarians were ordained, two to the diaconate and three to the priesthood. Accompanied by over 100 Claretian missionaries who were gathered at the Unification Assembly—where two Claretian provinces in the United States became one, Msgr. Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, granted the holy orders though the imposition of hands and by invoking the Holy Spirit.
With my ordination as a deacon, the stage of formation and preparation for my vocation to the priesthood as a Claretian missionary came to a close, but the challenges remain. Life now calls me to bring to the reality which surrounds me, what I have learned and above all else, to bring the gospel of Jesus to life. This means to live in awareness that hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Although we live in a world where human rights are violated every day, God is always present offering the opportunity to continue on our journey with His love and hope.
Have you ever felt a calling to the priesthood or religious life? What attracts you the most about this call? How strong is your hope?