MEET OUR SEMINARIANS

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Leonardo Moreira

Origin: Brasilia, Brazil

Year of Study: 4th Theology

Local Parish: Saint Mary of the Assumption, Lawrence

Small Blurb: I am the younger of two brothers and I grew up in a very close-knit family. In 2009, my father passed away due to swine flu. This event shook me up deeply, but, through it, God started to open my eyes to discover Him as my father. God little by little started to rebuild also the relationships with my brother and my mother and to open my eyes to see that there is so much more to life than my petty projects and selfish plans. I studied Electrical Engineering in college, but I felt that God was calling me to enter the seminary. At the World Youth Day meeting in Madrid, Spain, I felt this call again and, out of gratitude for the wonders that God had done in my life, I accepted the call to discern my vocation and prepare for the priesthood.

Giovanni Argote

Origin: Valledupar, Colombia

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Revere

Small Blurb: I am the oldest of seven siblings, but I grew up full of resentment because of my father’s absence. This changed when I joined the Neocatechumenal Way because I discovered that God loved me unconditionally. When I experienced this love, it helped me re-build the relationship with my father, and brought me to consider the vocation to the priesthood. After a short period of discernment in Medellin, I was chosen to come to the seminary in Boston. I can truly say that along the way, God has always been faithful.

Mateus Martin

Origin: Curitiba, Brazil

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: As the youngest of six children in a Catholic family, I grew up observing how my parents related; even when they had issues, they were always able to forgive each other. On Sundays, they would do Morning Prayer with us and teach us about the faith. As I grew older, I moved away from the Church, until at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, I was struck by the words of Pope Francis’ homily: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). I asked myself: what is this new song? I understood it was not just about music, but that it referred to my life. This reflection gave me the desire to be with Christ, and to live a life of service by entering the seminary. 

Jose Ignacio Montero

Origin: Pedro Brand, Dominican Republic

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Our Lady of Assumption, East Boston

Small Blurb: The youngest of two children, I come from a small town in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I grew up in a Catholic family. When I was preparing for first communion, I felt the Lord calling me for the first time to the priesthood. I became an altar boy in my home parish and I first heard about the seminary from my pastor, a missionary Colombian priest. When I finished High School, however, my goal was to go to the university and to study civil engineering. God, however, as the prophet Isaiah says, had other plans for me, “My thoughts are not your thoughts…” My Neocatechumenal community was fundamental to help me accept my vocation. In 2011 I entered a seminary in Santo Domingo and in 2014, I was sent to Boston. As the Psalm says, I can see today that “my lot has fallen in pleasant places” (Ps 16)

Francis Trewin

Origin: Miami, Florida

Year of Study: 3rd Theology

Local Parish: Saint Joseph's Parish, Lynn

Small Blurb: I am the fourth of eight children, born to Nicaraguan parents who made sure to raise us in the Church. Yet, as I grew older, I became more interested in friendships, having fun, sports, etc. As a teenager, I wanted to fit in with my friends and be appreciated. This led me to a time of great sadness. Nevertheless, it was during that time that

I attended the World Youth Day in Brazil, an experience that brought joy into my life. Then, at a youth meeting of the Neocatechumenal Way, I felt a call from the Lord to follow him. It was because of this experience that I entered the seminary and since then I have seen that the Lord is very generous. He has even given me a lifelong dream,

to play in a traveling basketball team! 

Javier Padilla

Origin: West Haven, Connecticut

Year of Study: 2nd Theology

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: I am the first of six children, born to Mexican parents. I have played the clarinet since I was a child and, after High School, desired to pursue a career in music. However, there was a God-sized hole in my life. The Summer before my senior year I went to my first World Youth Day in Poland. It was there that I saw that I was living very superficially, brushing God off to the side. In Poland, however, I realized that God had not brushed me off to the side, and I decided to consider the vocation to the priesthood and was sent to Boston, where I still have many opportunities to play my clarinet. 

Gustavo Neitzke

Origin: Campo Mourão, Brazil

Year of Study: 1st Theology

Local Parish: Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston

Small Blurb: Growing up as the fourth of five children in a Catholic family, the image of the priest was always present in my life. Over the years I met many holy priests whom I admired.  At World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, I experienced the call to the priesthood in a way stronger than ever. The words from the gospel of Mathew, “Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of man,” gave me the push to follow this call. However, after three years in the seminary, I left formation. During the two years I spent back home, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The dedication that the priests showed to her and my family up until her passing was a consolation that led me to reconsider my vocation and enter back into the seminary.

Ulises Diaz

Origin: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Year of Study: 2nd Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Saint Joseph's Parish, Lynn

Small Blurb: My sister and I were raised in a Protestant environment. What pushed me to join the Catholic Church was the moment when my teacher said that God can adopt someone as His son and that I could know Him through prayer. After being baptized I joined the Neocatechumenal Way, started altar serving, and participated in the parish youth group. It was not until a youth vocational meeting, some years later, that I felt that God was calling me to something more and so I decided to join the seminary. After a short time discerning in Santo Domingo, I was brought here to the seminary in Boston. 

Julio Flores

Origin: East Boston, Massachusetts

Year of Study: 1st Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Our Lady of the Assumption, East Boston

Small Blurb: I am originally from Lima, Peru, but came to live in East Boston with my mother after my father died. After High School, I started working many different jobs. Although I was doing well for myself, I felt utterly unsatisfied with my life. My mother was the person who brought me back to the faith by introducing me to the Neocatechumenal Way, which has been the beginning of my salvation. Since then, I have found that my happiness is found only in God, and, as a result, I decided to go to the seminary. A priest who is close to me once said “trust in Jesus; He is will guide you in all your steps, but first you have to put your trust in Him.” I can certainly say that his words are true.

Gerson Garcia

Origin: Los Angeles, California

Year of Study: 1st Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Saint Rose of Lima's Parish, Chelsea

Small Blurb: I am the second of three siblings born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Although I grew up in a Catholic family attending Mass every Sunday, I felt that I did not know who God was in my life and he was never in my thoughts. I first heard the Lord to the priesthood while attending World Youth Day in 2016. However, my mind at the time was in weightlifting and on becoming a soccer player. As I resisted the call of the Lord, God allowed me to limpse at life without him and I entered in a big crisis about the meaning of my life. During this time, my Neocatechumenal community played a pivotal role in helping me keep my ears open to the Word of God and I saw the tenderness of the Lord paving a way to help me rediscover him through an experience of true peace, the forgiveness of my sins and an even stronger call from God. Today I am happy the Lord gave me the grace to abandon my worthless projects and to have “chosen the better part” discerning my vocation.

Aaron Arbizo

Origin: Orange County, California

 

Year of Study: 1st Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: I am the fifth of ten children born to Mexican parents and raised in California. My parents brought us up in the faith, but as a teenager, I wanted my space and I rebelled against my parents. In spite of my rebellion, my parents kept us all in the Church and were keen to transmit the faith to me and my siblings. My rebellion continued in High School and I was at the point of not graduating. At the start of college, I was faced with a question that had been with me for a while except that I now needed an answer, what do I want to do with my life? During the summer, I did a missionary experience announcing the Gospel in the streets and the Lord was waiting for me in the streets! During this time, I heard Jesus telling me “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk”. Although I didn’t quite understand the meaning of those words, I realized that God had just given me an opportunity to follow him, discern my vocation and explore my vocation to the priesthood.

Kevin Pleitez

Origin: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Year of Study: 4th Theology

Local Parish: Saint Mary of the Assumption, Lawrence

Small Blurb: I was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, but moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut when I was seven years old. I am the youngest of five siblings. I was baptized as a child but grew up most of my life outside the Church. My principal goal in life was to have a successful career. However, after finding myself dissatisfied with what the

world had to offer, I met the Church through the Neocatechumenal Way where I also felt the Lord calling me to the priesthood. So, after one semester of college, with the help of my catechists, I understood clearly that the Lord was calling me to follow him and I left everything behind to pursue this call.

Paolo Strudthoff

Origin: Rome, Italy

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Revere

Small Blurb: I am the fourth of seven siblings and was brought up Catholic in Rome. Yet, at a certain point in my life, I began to live as the world would tell me—that is, by focusing only on my aspirations and rejecting God altogether. My aim was to become a successful musician.

I became an active singer-songwriter and began playing in different venues around Europe. I had enough money and my career was slowly taking off. Everything looked well on the outside; yet, on the inside, I felt completely empty and unsatisfied. It was in that moment of darkness that God led me back to the Church. He rebuilt my life almost from scratch and gave me joy. As a response to all the marvelous things that God had done out of love for me, I felt peace in accepting the call to the priesthood and, in 2014, I joined

the seminary in Boston.

Gabriel Hanley

Origin: Framingham, Massachusetts

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: The fourth of six children, I was raised in a Catholic family to a Dominican mother and an Irish

American father. By the end of High School, it was clear to me that God was calling me to the priesthood, but the difficulty was accepting the vocation. I first tried fulfilling my dream of studying art, but for some reason, the question of the vocation would not leave me alone. I decided to stop running and went to the Domus Galilee in Israel for a time

of discernment. This decision was pivotal because it was there that I was able to say yes to God's call. Providentially, I was sent to Boston, where God has given everything back

to me in a new way.

 
 
 
 

Vincenzo Caruso

Origin: Naples, Italy

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: Saint Thomas Aquinas, Jamaica Plain

Small Blurb: I am the youngest of four siblings, and I was born in Naples, Italy. Although I was baptized as a child, growing up I spent most of my life outside the Church. My dream was to become an electrical engineer and after graduating from high school, I entered the university to pursue my dream. In spite of seeing my dream becoming a reality, inside I felt empty and grew more and more dissatisfied with my life. It was at this point that God came looking for me through the Church and I joined the Neocatechumenal Way. God was waiting for me in my community and it was here that I felt that He was calling me to the priesthood. In many ways, I am still a work in progress but I am very grateful to my catechists for guiding me in this journey and helping me understand that the Lord does not call the qualified but qualifies those whom he calls.

Aaron Sanz

Origin: Bogota, New Jersey

Year of Study: 1st Theology

Local Parish: Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston

Small Blurb: I am the second of eleven siblings. My family was always involved in our home parish, which allowed me to draw close to my pastor. The love he had for his ministry really left an impression on me. Growing up I dedicated much of time to my hobbies, especially music. I hoped that after High School I would be able to have a career in music composition, but it seemed that God had different plans for me. When I attended World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, my older brother and I both felt that we were being called to the priesthood. My brother eventually entered the seminary in Philadelphia, while I instead tried to run from the call. However, God was so persistent, that I finally decided to join the seminary as well.

John Gonzalez

Origin: Brooklyn, New York

Year of Study: 2nd Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: I am the youngest of four siblings and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. By the time I was born, my parents were already in the Neocatechumenal Way, which meant that they brought me with them to the Eucharist every Saturday night with we did Morning Prayer as a family every Sunday. Since childhood, I have always had a passion for music, which is why after graduating from High School, I enrolled in college and studied Music Education for a few years. Meanwhile, it was at this point that I realized that, even thought I was studying what I wanted and working in a job that payed me very well, there was something still missing in my life. I thank God for my catechists, whose invaluable help guided me in the way of the discerning my vocation to the priesthood.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Diego Valdez

Origin: Boulder, Colorado

Year of Study: Itinerancy

Local Parish: 

Small Blurb: I am the eldest of two and I was born in Boulder, Colorado, to Mexican parents. I grew up in a Catholic family that was close to the Church and then served as an altar server, lector, and Eucharistic minister. As a teenager, I aspired to do something great with my life and I wanted to be a basketball player. I was also a bit of a rebel which is why joining the Neocatechumenal Way with my parents gave me a new outlook on life: here, I was met by the love of God and I also discovered my vocation to the priesthood. Looking back, I can see how God was patient with me and always respected me, without allowing me to stray too far from him. During the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Brazil in 2013, I finally accepted that the Lord, not only loved me but that he was probably calling me to the priesthood. Saying “yes” to Him has forever changed my life.

Diego Alejandro Peña

Origin: Zipaquirá, Colombia

Year of Study: 3rd Theology

Local Parish: Saint Patrick's Parish, Brockton

Small Blurb: I am from a small town in Colombia, and I am the second of three children. Reaching the end of High School, I was confronted with the question, what next? What am I going to do? Everything was so uncertain. On top of it all, I had a rocky relationship with my father. However, God did not abandon me. A missionary priest, together with a couple from the Neocatechumenal way, helped give me some direction. They helped me discover my father’s love for me, and God’s love for me as a father. It was through them that I initially heard God’s call to the priesthood. I started to discern the vocation in Bogota and now continue my journey here in Boston. 

Edward Rodriguez

Origin: Houston, Texas

Year of Study: 2nd Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Saint Rosa of Lima's Parish, Chelsea

Small Blurb: Of three siblings I am the oldest and the only boy. My parents are from Mexico and raised us in the Catholic faith. Thanks to the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, I have been able to understand the faith more in-depth. During my time in college, I felt the calling to the priesthood, and the goals that I was slowly establishing for myself did not make me happy. Seeing my parents go to church and pray pushed me to take my faith more seriously. Also, I remember how I looked up to a priest from the Neocatechumenal Way; seeing how he related to people always struck me. His example and the help of my Catechists eventually opened me up to the call to the priesthood and the possibility of going to the seminary.

 
 
 
 

Michael Castellon

Origin: Chinandega, Nicaragua

Year of Study: 1st Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: As the fourth of seven children, and at a very young age, I was faced with the premature death of my mother. However, God did not abandon me. He prepared another woman to be my mother who not only took care of me, but most importantly, raised me and my siblings in the faith. She used to say that God has a plan for each person, but that the voice of God is not always easily heard. Nonetheless, inspired by my mother's faith, I decided to leave my studies, family, comfort, and start on the path to the priesthood. The time of the seminary has been a period of grace where I have discovered that, despite my weaknesses, I am loved and accepted just as I am.

 

Rafael Milla

Origin: Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

Year of Study: 1st Pre-Theology

Local Parish: Immaculate Conception, Marlborough

Small Blurb: I was born in Lima, Peru, but at the age of 11,

I moved with my family to Belen, New Mexico. When I was 2 years old, my father died from brain cancer. Although my family was in the Church, in my heart I grew resentful towards God for taking my father away. Growing up, I felt his absence and I sought to fill that void by wanting to be successful. Through school, I got a degree of Master of Architecture, and through the Neocatechumenal Way, I realized that, even though I had lost my father at a young age, God had never lost sight of me and was always present in my life. I got a glimpse of true happiness when out of gratitude to God for his kindness to me, I abandoned my dream of a successful career as an architect to enter the seminary in Boston.

 
 
 
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