In your words of thanks, you remembered Father Pablo Bejarano with great emotion. What did he mean in your life and whom do you also thank in your vocation to the priesthood?
“Father Pablo Bejarano Martínez, Missionary of Guadalupe, if he were alive, would celebrate precisely this August 28, 60 years of priesthood. That’s why I chose this day for ordination. He said to me, when it was the last days of his earthly life, ‘I only ask God to come to your ordination.’ So I believe that to honor this desire of yours, this August 28th I have thought about diaconal ordination.
“I just thought, ‘You’re not physically.’ And a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews came to mind in which the author of the letter says that God heard his Son and let him die. For I think he also did that with Father Paul, he let him die so that he would not rejoice in limited human joy, but in eternal joy, to gather the fruit of his sowing in my life and particularly in the parish of St. Nicholas of Bari who is blessed with vocations. It was Father Paul, whom I first said ‘yes’ to the question, do you want to be a priest? I said on January 28, 2007: ‘Yes father, but’… And by the grace of God now I can say yes, but without the ‘but’. He said with great peace to me, ‘Quiet if it is of God it will be.’ His word continues to resonate in me these days and he was the one who sent me to the Seminary, who was accompanying my vocational process.
“Another priest, particularly Father Jorge Luis Gil, who is from St. Nicholas, unknowingly also greatly influenced. Together, when we were teenagers, we were celebrating the Word and we were going to missionary ourselves. The deacon Sergio, permanent deacon of the parish of San Nicolás de Bari, was also a key instrument to discover what the Lord asked of me. Monsignor Rodolfo very patiently was like the potter who shaped me in the vocational group. Now some name may go away, but particularly these have been the priests in my vocational journey and the spiritual companions, those who gave me coconuts to account for. Among them are: Father Oscarito who also rejoices in the eternal joy of the Lord, Father Chema, in Spain and the Franciscan fathers, much loved by me, without them I do not think this ordination would have been possible.”
You are the last of the three seminarians who were ordained deacons in August in the Archdiocese of Havana in the midst of very difficult circumstances for the country, what does this mean to you?
“Pope Francis says that God is the God of surprises. Actually, I was thinking about that these days. Not just with this circumstance of the coronavirus. If to me ten years earlier, when the bishop sent me to the seminary, he tells me that he would order me without his presence, something predictable certainly by mathematical calculations, it was to be expected that Cardinal Jaime would not order me, but no calculation was possible to estimate that he would not be physically such a man full of health, of life. If I’m told he wasn’t there, my parish priest or my family, I’d say that’s not possible.
“This gospel passage resounds to me: ‘For God anything is possible.’ He goes our way and tells us not to be afraid and that where we least hope, He makes life, joy and hope flow.”
Junior, sometimes young people do not want to make commitments as transcendent and lasting and somewhat risky as religious vocations and the priesthood are. What message do you give to these young men who have a vocation to religious life and what do you advise those seminarians who are currently forming?
“Anthropologically man is always the same from antiquity to today. It is true that all these particular coordinates of our society also influence, of course, but I think there is a great fear not only to give way to a particular vocation as risky as you said, in the sense of giving up as the priesthood, like religious life, even the Christian vocation, because deep down we find that something is lost. It’s funny, a lot of times when people find us, they say, ‘Oh, but you can’t get married, you can’t have kids.’ It is as if deep down we lose, as if deep down we cannot be happy as much as a priest, as a religious or as a religious, as a Christian, even, sometimes it draws attention how the first thing young people ask is what can be done or what cannot be done, what is forbidden to him.
“It’s nothing like that. One certainly discovers that what you lose is what is left over, is what gets in the way and you experience the joy of saying, ‘I have been saved.’ I have been saved by love, by his Word that helps me, which pushes me with the power of the resurrection to always seek ways of happiness that are not in those artificial paradises in which today’s young people want to seek a realization of life. He’s not there! It is in Jesus Christ, true way and life.
“With my testimony, with my life also dedicated, I encourage you to listen to the voice of God and I also encourage my seminarian brethren not to be afraid. God is always greater than our sin, than our stumbles, than our vagrancy, than our clumsinesses. Don’t forget that Jacob fight. He sashes with the angel and says, ‘I will not let you go until you have blessed me.’ Well, I encourage you to do all that in the fight of Christian life.”
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