Meet our seminarians: Israel Rodriguez Diaz
Current Parish: Our Lady of the Assumption, East Boston. Home town: Granada, Spain. Seminary: Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary House of Formation . High School: Instituto de Bachillerato Padre Suarez. Hobbies: Soccer, playing guitar, reading.
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
When I was a little child I thought about being a missionary. However, the first time I thought seriously about the priesthood was when I was 16 years old. I attended a Catholic youth vocational meeting in Madrid in 1995, led by Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and Father Mario Pezzi, the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way. There I felt that the Lord was calling me to abandon everything and become a missionary priest.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?
I participated in World Youth Day meetings in Denver ’93, Loreto ’95 and Paris ’97. For one year I attended a vocational discernment group in Seville, Spain. I also attended a four-day retreat in Porto San Giorgio, Italy, in preparation for the sending out of missionary seminarians all around the world.
What is your favorite Scripture
One of my favorite passages is 2 Cor 5:14-15: “The love of Christ urges us at the thought that if one has died for all, all have died. And He died for all so that those who live may live no longer for themselves but for Him who died and is risen for them.”
This passage shows Christ’s power to liberate man from selfishness and lead him into a life of self-giving and love toward Him and toward others.
What was your involvement in
parish life before entering the
As a child, I was an altar server and sang in the choir of my home parish in Granada, Spain. As a teenager I was involved in the Neocatechumenal Way in the communities of my parish.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
I participated in a couple of vocational pilgrimages to World Youth Day (1995 and 1997). There I heard Kiko, Carmen and Father Mario (the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way) speak about being a missionary priest and “going anywhere in the world.” I was captivated by their invitation. My parents, my catechists and the priests I know, have been very supportive of my vocation.
What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?
Courage! Do not be afraid! Put your trust in the Lord and He will help you!
Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?
Attending a vocational group with other young men who are also discerning the vocation to the priesthood. Sincerity and openness with one’s own vocational director. Prayer and obedience. Living out a celibate life.
Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? How is it similar and different from your expectations?
At first I thought about the seminary as a place of prayer and the study of theology. After eight years of seminary formation, I have discovered that seminary formation includes also frequent contact with the word of God, the learning of service, humility and obedience, and a special concern and involvement in the evangelizing mission of the Church.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am the oldest of 12 brothers and sisters. I lived for one year in the Holy Land.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations.
Vocational pilgrimages, especially connected to World Youth Day. Vocational retreats. Prayer for vocations. The strengthening of Christian families from which vocations will spring forth.
What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?
I saw him always as a tireless evangelizer, a preacher of the truth and a holy man, full of the Spirit of Christ. I was impressed by his ability to reach young people and bring them to Christ.
What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and His Church?
Weekly attendance to a celebration of the Word in my parish, Sunday Eucharist, monthly retreats of my Neocatechumenal community, attendance to a series of catechetical instructions, Sunday Morning Prayer in my family, spiritual meetings in preparation of Advent and Lent, daily Eucharist and the rosary.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life?
Through prayer I can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayer helps me to put my whole life at the feet of Jesus Christ. I frequently ask in prayer for the grace of humility, obedience and love towards others, and especially for the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
What are some of your favorite and most important
The Bible and the lives and writings of the saints, especially St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Loius Marie de Montfort.
Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to
help rebuild His Church. How must the priest respond
to this mandate today?
First of all, by being generous, obedient and holy and by having a missionary spirit. I think that a priest today must search for the “lost sheep,” as Jesus did. We need to evangelize people who don’t come to church. I think a priest nowadays cannot just wait for people to come to church. We must go out and “look for them,” as part of the New Evangelization, and use available means to reach people. Many are waiting to receive a word of comfort: the Good News of Jesus Christ.
How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the Apostles?
By being a man of prayer and of the Word of God. By being zealous for the Gospel, ready to “lose” his life without counting the cost.
Anything else you think would be helpful either to prospective vocations or to the vocations office as we encourage more vocations?
Implementing itineraries for the Christian formation of the faithful (such as the Neocatechumenal Way), especially for families, where vocations may spring forth.
The Pilot, in cooperation with the Office of Vocations, is publishing a series of brief profiles of the men preparing for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston. For other profiles or if you think God may be calling you to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, visit the Vocations Office Web site at www.VocationsBoston.org.