Leonar Mejia Photo courtesy Vocations Office
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Home Parish: St. Mary of the Annunciation, Cambridge. Home Country: Colombia. Seminary: St. Johnís Seminary. High School: Universidad Santo Tomas, Colombia.College: Seminario Mayor Maria Immaculada, Colombia. Hobbies: Reading, listening to music, writing poems, movies, making friends.
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
Since my childhood.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?
Even as a child, I worked in a parish in Colombia, Divino Maestro, where I did different aspects of pastoral work with youth. Through the years, I participated in missionary groups, catechism planning, pastoral work, social groups, and the teaching of ethics, religion, philosophy, Scripture and sacraments to high school students.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why?
John 8. It is the story about the woman who is caught in adultery. In this passage we find a God who is full of love and mercy. He loves us even when we are sinners. His love is greater than anything. Jesus always extends to us mercy by forgiving our sins, and hope by giving us the strength to try and sin no more.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
The pastor of my parish inspired me with his preaching. He celebrates the Eucharist and receives all people with love. He is a good man who received us as sons of God.
What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?
Itís important to give an answer to God and be determined. A vocation is a gift from God. He desires that we preach to the people about his love and about his plan for salvation. You are part of this plan and God needs you. He needs you to continue the beautiful activity and life of the priest for the people of God.
Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?
Discernment includes a good relationship with God in prayer. Itís necessary to be open to the call and respond to it. It is important to meet with the vocation directors, to receive spiritual direction from the priest and to participate in the sacramental life. Discern in the Holy Spirit through prayerful meditation and reading.
Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? Please explain.
Seminary formation has met my high expectations. It is consumed with prayer, study, apostolate and human formation.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
People and friends would be happy to see that I am realizing my dream. I am always looking for the good things of God and seeking to do his holy will. My friends will be happy as I am.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations?
We need to be more close to our vocations, improving our message of invitation. We need to use well the communication resources. We need to have more discernment retreats, and be available to young people in the parishes.
What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?
John Paul II influenced my vocation by his missionary impulse, his humility and because he was a true man of God. He reflected Godís love.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ?
I used to go to the prayer groups as a child where I learned about him. Jesus is always in my heart, He is the model of my life, my friend.
What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and his Church?
My personal prayer in front of the tabernacle and kneeling down in his presence are the most important parts of my day. Spiritual reading, confession and the Eucharist have shaped my life.
What was your career or background before entering the seminary?
Social and pastoral work in my parish along with some psychological support in the high school and with families.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life.
Prayer is the number one activity of my life. I think it is necessary to make of our lives a splendid prayer to the Father.
What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/books/passages?
I like to read the Bible and Father Ignacio Larranaga.
What is your day like in the seminary?
In the seminary we have responsibilities that help in our formation. We pray at different times of the day with the liturgy of the hours, the eucharistic holy hour, and the rosary. We also have various conferences and classes for intellectual, pastoral and human formation. There is a great many activities in our schedule.
Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to help rebuild his Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?
Today our Church has a big challenge in the rebuilding of the Church. The priest must be open to this challenge in our society. A priest must be a man of prayer, faith, and good communication. He must be willing to attend to the necessities of the most poor.
How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the Apostles?
The priest is a father of the community. He must, like the Apostles, keep man united to God.
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.