Deacon Kevin Pleitez Pilot photo/courtesy Office for Vocations
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This is the second in a series of articles profiling the five men who will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 22.
CHESTNUT HILL -- Deacon Kevin Pleitez felt he had everything he needed for a successful life.
At the age of seven, his family immigrated from Honduras to Bridgeport, Connecticut. After finishing grade school, he was accepted to the University of Connecticut with a scholarship. He had friends, money, and good career prospects. Yet, he "felt that something was missing."
"I went through a little bit of a crisis at that point in my life," he said in a March 8 interview.
He began to question everything, wondering why he was not happy with what he had. Then, one of his close friends invited him to attend catechesis offered by the Neocatechumenal Way. Deacon Pleitez went along, and he found that the catechesis responded directly to the existential questions he had been wrestling with.
He had been baptized as an infant, but he had not been raised in the Church.
"For me, it was something new, because I had never heard anything concrete about Jesus Christ, about his nearness to us," Deacon Pleitez said.
He began attending Mass and assisting in the community of the Neocatechumenal Way. It was there that he learned about the sacraments and the forgiveness of sins, "coming to rediscover these graces that we receive in baptism."
"After being in this community and receiving the sacraments, I discovered the fidelity of God in my life," he said.
That was when Deacon Pleitez felt God's call to follow him more closely as a priest.
As part of his formation, he spent one year in the Holy Land, serving pilgrims in Galilee for the first half of his time there and studying the Scriptures in Jerusalem for the second half.
One thing that helped him during that time, he said, was being able to meditate on the Scriptures at the locations where the events they described took place.
"That was particularly helpful for me, to also see the actual places where a lot of the mysteries of our faith happened," Deacon Pleitez said.
He said the experience helped him "to see this nearness of God to all of us" and understand "that he became flesh as a means to help us and to help me."
While in the Holy Land, midway through his time in the seminary, he made a general confession, and in that experience, he felt God confirming his vocation.
He also learned from his time of service, and came to see how Christ's priority was to serve others.
"I saw that first Christ has served me through the sacraments, through the Word of God, through the many priests and catechists that he has put in my life. So discovering Christ has served me first gave me the desire to serve others," Deacon Pleitez said.
Upon ordination as a transitional deacon in October, he was assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere.
He said he sees a great need for evangelization, and that the coronavirus pandemic "has enkindled in me a desire to also find creative ways to call and to minister to those that are not inside of the Church."
"I was one of the lost sheep, so I came back to the Church through the new evangelization, which came through one of my best friends. When he saw me in difficulties, he invited me to come to the Church. He gave me a word of encouragement. And this is what I hope to do as well," Deacon Pleitez said.
He said he would encourage those considering the priesthood or religious life "not to be afraid, not to look at themselves but to look at Jesus Christ, because at the end, the one who calls is the Lord himself."
"He is the one who heals our wounds, who teaches us, who accompanies us during this time, so as to make us an instrument of his grace," Deacon Pleitez said.