Ordination Class of 2024: Deacon Giovanni Argote

This is the sixth article in a series profiling the 11 men who will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 25, 2024.

CHESTNUT HILL -- "Why are you so happy?"

When he was in his early 20s and still living in his native Colombia, Deacon Giovanni Argote asked his pastor that question.

The pastor replied that if Deacon Argote wanted to learn what made him so happy, he should spend the day with him. Deacon Argote followed his pastor as he visited the sick at a hospital, heard confessions, and celebrated Mass. After Mass, a homeless man entered the church and asked for money. The pastor gave him all of the money he had, without asking what he needed it for.

"Giovanni," he said, "when you have the opportunity to give, give. Because, later on, you may have the opportunity to give, but you may not have the willingness to give."

Deacon Argote was so moved by the experience that, in 2012, he joined a seminary in Colombia. Two years later, he moved to Boston to begin studying at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chestnut Hill. This year, he will be ordained to the priesthood. He currently serves as a transitional deacon at Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere.

"This is what the Lord wants me to do," Deacon Argote, now 34, told The Pilot.

He said that God and his priestly formation at Redemptoris Mater have given him "many gifts."

"First to know myself, to know who I am, to know the love of the Lord," he said, "has given me such a joy that I'm looking forward to the priesthood."

When he was a boy, growing up in the city of Valledupar, Colombia, Deacon Argote never expected to become a priest. He lived with his mother, grandmother, and sister. His father was away in another city, studying to become a doctor. Deacon Argote described his childhood as pleasant, but he missed his dad.

"I had a little bit of resentment of my father," he said, "but later on, the Lord gave me the grace to reconcile with my father, to speak to him, to have a beautiful relationship with him."

The young Deacon Argote was not active in his faith, but that changed when he discovered the Neocatechumenal Way at the age of 15.

"From that moment, the church has been like a mother to me," he said. "Since that moment, I have learned to, first of all, know that God loves me as I am."

He now finds great joy in telling people that God loves them just the way they are. He told many people that, during his time as a missionary in California, he was touched by the experiences and suffering of those he served.

"Just to bring them the word of the Lord, to tell them that God loves them, was enough for them to come to life again," he said.

Around the same time that he joined the Neocatechumenal Way, Deacon Argote felt a calling to the priesthood, but he didn't act on it. A few years later, he had that fateful meeting with his pastor.

"Since that moment, I said, 'I want this happiness, I want this,'" he recalled. "And then the Lord, little by little, has been helping me to see the vocation to the priesthood."

When he moved to Boston, Deacon Argote spoke no English -- and, after growing up in the heat of Valledupar, he was totally unprepared for the Boston winter. His formators helped him learn English, and the seminary's rector, Father Antonio Medeiros, taught him that "God is a father, and I am not alone."

"I have learned that, with God, everything is possible," he said. "Everything is possible. And this certainty is what gave me the joy to keep going forward with this vocation, to be disposed to give my life for the people. And also, I have to be disposed to serve the people, because God has served me before, through the community, through the church. And this is a gift that the church has given to me, and I'm willing to give it freely to everyone."