August 11, 2006

Visiting Guadalajara seminarians continue summer ministry

By Sean Gallagher

Jose de Jesus Ruiz Reynoso, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, received a phone call a few months ago from one of his superiors.

The subject of the call? An invitation out of the blue to spend time in Indianapolis this summer ministering among the Hispanic community here.

“He gave me only a few minutes to decide,” said Reynoso in a recent interview at St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis.

“I was a little afraid to leave my country, when I had never done that before, [and to go to a place] that has a distinct language and a distinct culture. I knew it would be a new world for me.”

Reynoso was joined in this adventure by fellow seminarian Aniceto Sandoval Murillo.

Both men will soon begin their fourth year of priestly formation in Guadalajara’s major seminary and are scheduled to be ordained to the diaconate in December.

They arrived in Indianapolis on July 3 and will depart on Aug. 12. Over the course of their stay, their days, nights and weekends were filled with ministry.

Reynoso served in St. Lawrence Parish and St. Philip Neri Parish, both in Indianapolis, and in St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. Murillo ministered in St. Monica Parish and in St. Mary Parish, both in Indianapolis.

They assisted at Mass, led formation sessions for liturgical ministers, met with youth groups, visited families, and helped Hispanic Catholics get copies of sacramental documentation from parishes back in Mexico.

Both seminarians are residing at St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis.

In many respects, they said that their experience of ministry here wasn’t much different than what it’s like back in Guadalajara.

Except for one major factor: time.

“Because of the amount of work that Hispanics do here, it is very difficult to do things Monday through Friday,” Reynoso said. “And so most of the programming that you have to do has to take place on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday.

“Here it seems like they live to work and they work to live.”

Murillo not only sees many similarities between ministry in Indianapolis and in Guadalajara, he also thinks that Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Catholics share a lot in common.

“In whatever place you’re in, you find believers, you find people with a deep faith, and I have found that here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re English-speaking or Spanish-speaking. You find people who believe in God, and you find that we’re all on the same journey.”

Father Michael O’Mara, pastor of St. Mary Parish, has hosted Guadalajara seminarians each of the last four summers that they have ministered in the archdiocese.

He said that one of the most important aspects of their presence here is the impact they have on young Hispanic men in Indianapolis who are open to a call to the priesthood.

“The seminarians from Guadalajara have helped us in our vocational ministry, by their presence first of all,” he said. “They have an incredible charisma about them that opens a young man up to wanting to consider the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.”

At present, there are five Hispanic seminarians in the archdiocese and several more young Hispanic men who are actively discerning a priestly vocation.

While Murillo values building relationships with other men considering the priesthood, he also sees the importance of Guadalajara seminarians serving in central and southern Indiana for the wider Hispanic community.

“For the immigrants that are here, the presence of priests and seminarians from Guadalajara reminds them that they are not that separated, and that their culture and religiosity can be expressed here,” he said.

Although the Hispanic community in the archdiocese includes people from several different countries in Central and South America, a large number of them came here from Guadalajara or nearby that large Mexican city.

“This program has become very important to the Hispanic community of Indianapolis,” Father O’Mara said. “People will begin to ask me starting in January and February, ‘When are the seminarians from Guadalajara coming?’ ”

Reynoso appreciated the warm welcome he received upon his arrival.

“It’s very motivational to know that people anticipate your visit without even knowing you,” he said, “ … and to know that, in a sense, I am who they are waiting for to announce the good word.” †

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