By Luis Salazar
Los Angeles, California
Holy Cross Parish
Being a home-based seminarian means a lot to me. If I am honest, it’s also difficult. This is because, all of sudden I have a big responsibility in front of my parish, not just in regard to the Comboni priests that are guiding me, but also for the community. As a seminarian, we are called to represent the Church. In fact, I feel that I am the “good face of Holy Cross” and that is a heavy cross to carry when you are young in the eyes of everyone in the community.
Nevertheless, I have so much fun been a good guy too: helping the community, teaching first communion to the young kids as they grow in age and in our Catholic faith, and watching how they learn and apply those newly acquired ideas into their daily lives. This makes me feel good about myself.
I also offer advice to the youth because I am young and belong to the youth group of my parish. I do not mind guiding them, because, indeed some need help or good example. In fact, what would I be if I were not in the way of the Lord? Maybe another statistic of South Central Los Angeles of a failed youngster enrolled in gangs and low-life activities.
I enjoy being a home-based seminarian because I can make a difference in the life of other young people. I love working with the youth because I believe that they are our future leaders. Guiding them in the right direction by loving God and coming to church, I help my parish church to show the young people the right direction. As a matter of fact, I’m soon going to start a new teenage group at Holy Cross and my mentor and adviser will be Father Alberto Pimentel, mccj. I am glad he trusts me with the opportunity to start one small teenage group in the parish even though I do not feel up to the challenge.
Yet I am very excited about this prospective and I have lots of plans. Having this group is going to be very exciting to me, and I know that being the founder of this group will be a life-changing experience. I say this because some of the youth here in South Central Los Angeles need special guidance and advice. Some kids do not have a safe place to hang out. So, by starting this teenage group, I hope to provide them with a safe place to say and express what they desire.
I also help out during Sunday Mass. I am an altar servant who sometimes stays for one or two Masses, just to receive the message right. I don’t mind staying because love it here at Holy Cross. Many of the people who attend Sunday Mass here are very nice and welcoming. They also greet me with love and great appreciation, and that makes me feel very good about myself because I am doing something right. They even pronounce my name with great love and care as they now call me “Luisito” instead of just “Luis.”
People are praying for me as I discern my missionary vocation as a Home-based Comboni seminarian. I like talking to everyone here at Holy Cross even if it is just to say hello. Some people also tell me that they pray for me and are always asking God to put me in the right steps. I also got letters from a group of Auxiliary Ladies from Monroe, Michigan. Even though they do not know me, I am very appreciative for their words and their prayers.
My school life is very interesting and sometimes stressful. Being a pre-med major student, it requires a lot of school and dedication. Hopefully in five years I’ll be finishing. I always pray to God so he can guide me into the best steps no matter what I become at the end.
I also have big plans for the time I graduate and become a pediatrician. My goal is to open up my own clinic. There are a lot of people that cannot afford to see a doctor. Some also fear going to the doctors because of their immigration status and fear deportation. That is why I want to do all of this, although, as I said before, with the help of God and making the right choices whenever is possible.
This is what I can say about my short missionary vocation and wonder if any other young person would like to dare to choose Christ in their life. Fr. Alberto entrusted me with forming a group of prospective candidates to priesthood and religious life. They will come forward on Holy Thursday so that our parish may adopt them as new home-based seminarians. Their names will be included in the prayer for vocations every Sunday and in every group and ministry at Holy Cross. This is the way I myself came forward to my community and I am so happy that so far, five new candidates signed in for this activity.
Please keep us in your prayers and ask the good Lord to inspire us to answer his call with audacity and conviction. Receive blessings and regards from Los Angeles in California.
Luis Salazar and Fr. Chris Aleti. Luis is a home-based Comboni seminarian, still discerning his call to the missionary life. Fr. Chris is a Comboni Missionary serving in Chicago. He is in Los Angeles for one month to learn Spanish.