One of the greatest joys of a priest is knowing that you are giving your life for others.
There still echoes in my heart and mind the words of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac, “Am I not here, who am your Mother?” Of course. This testimony that I write about my nine years of priesthood I dedicate to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and her humble spouse Saint Joseph.
I want to share one very special experience among the many of my priesthood. I was celebrating my first Mass at my home parish of Saint Mary Magdalene in the Pueblo Libre neighborhood of Lima. My family, neighbors, friends and many people who had known me from childhood were there. However, at the end of Mass and after greeting everyone, I realized that one of my closest friends was missing, Luchito Vela Berrocal, who, I later learned, was in the hospital.
I visited him a few days later. I will never forget the moment of our meeting. Me standing there wearing a black soutane. He in a white hospital gown lying in bed. My friend cried when he saw me. We spoke a little and then I asked him if he would like to receive the anointing of the sick. Luis was suffering from brain cancer. I returned the next day and anointed him. It was very special for me. It was the first time that I had administered this sacrament, a few days after being ordained a priest and to a friend. I saw Lucho a third time before returning to Cuzco and starting my activities at the City of Boys. My friend fought another year with this terrible illness. He died the following year on March 3, 2013. I am still in contact with his family, especially his father. I always pray for my friend who left a wife and child barely two years old. Luchito Vela, rest in peace!
The priestly ministry involves sacrifices, resignations, offerings. One of the greatest joys of a priest is definitely knowing that you are giving your life for others (John 15:13).
The priest, like another Christ, offers his whole life for others.
Thank you all and may God bless you.
One thing in particular that has always moved me in all my years as a priest is the many times that people approach you and say, “Father, pray for me. I have this problem or difficulty. Pray to God, ‘you who are closer to God,’ pray to God for me.” These requests remind me of the Biblical passage in Numbers 21:7 that the priest is an intercessor.
I can’t end this testimony without recording the words of Our Lord Jesus on the Cross to his disciple, “Behold your Mother” (John 19:27). These words have accompanied me throughout my priesthood. Knowing, from Jesus’ own words, that she is at my side, always, come what may. To the Virgin Mary and her Most Chaste Spouse Saint Joseph, I commend my life, my work as a servant of Jesus Christ, and I also commend to them all the apostolates of the Missionary Servants of the Poor.
Thus, the priest is appointed by God to pray for his people and to intercede for them. A beautiful task, which must always be the first and principal task of every minister of the Lord.