By Father Guillermo Trevino
Last month I attended the V Encuentro (fifth encounter). It was an amazing gathering of 3,000 Latino Catholic leaders. Several cardinals were present and nearly 200 bishops, including Bishop Thomas Zinkula from our Diocese of Davenport. However, what stood out for me was the key theme of the Encuentro — accompaniment.
We are called to accompany each other on this journey of life. We may be OK at any given time, but others are not. I remember 11 years ago. I had no idea what would happen, but I felt called to be a priest. So I started the inquiry process with the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. I grew up in Moline, Ill., which is part of the Peoria Diocese.
I was invited to attend a seminary in Minnesota but I was very green, rough around the edges. I was told that maybe I should look into doing something else. That devastated me. Here’s the direct quote from a priest regarding my priesthood aspirations: “I don’t see it.” I was devastated and cried myself to sleep that night.
A young seminarian named Christian Reyes asked me, “Why are you crying?” I responded, “I’m not sure if this is my calling.” He told me to have a beer and had his friends come to his room so we could talk. Christian gave me what I needed, someone to accompany me on this very difficult day. It was maybe the second-most difficult day of my life, the first being the death of my father.
I was together with just a few others after receiving the bad news about my vocation. But their presence was what I needed to continue to discern my vocation to the priesthood. I returned home and talked with my pastor. He said, “If God wants you to be a priest, it will happen and if he doesn’t want you to be a priest, it will not happen.”
Two beautiful ironies come from this story. First, I am now a priest of three years. Second, at a breakout session at the V Encuentro in Texas, I ran into Christian Reyes. My smile lit up; he looked at me saying, “I know you!” I said, “Yes!” He is a married man and director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn., and I am a priest. If it wasn’t for Christian that fateful day, who knows where I’d be today?
The challenge I give to you: So many persons in our world are hurting, battling life and need someone just to be there. Can that someone be you?
Vision 20/20, the V Encuentro and the Joy of the Gospel are calling us to be extraordinary in our outreach. That outreach, however, can be as simple as giving of our time to those we see in need. I am living proof of what can happen when someone believes in you. May we believe in others’ potential as well.
(Fr. Guillermo Treviño serves at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty.)