By Hugo Rodriguez
(Editor’s Note: This “Conception Seminarian Blog” is reprinted with permission from Conception Seminary, Conception, Mo.)
This past weekend I, along with my sophomore class and some pre-theologians, spent the weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. We were immersed for a weekend in a fraction of the Hispanic community that gives so much life to the church today all over the United States.
I am studying for the Diocese of Davenport, also in Iowa, but was born in Mexico and have lived in the United States for 14 years. Consequently, I have grown up in very similar communities to the ones we experienced this weekend, so it almost felt like I was back at my home parish in Ottumwa.
I must admit though, that I thought I would not get much out of the weekend since I believed it was mostly geared towards seminarians who do not have experience with Hispanic communities or the language. However, I realized I had so much to gain from this weekend when I met part of the Rodriguez-Ceballos Family: Jose, Teresa, Eduardo and Pablo. In spending two nights at their house, eating and conversing with them at their table and even driving one night to get some street tacos, I realized what a blessing these opportunities are for us seminarians.
Jared Ludwig, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and I spent hours learning our host family’s life stories, and I felt so at home with their hospitality and deep love for the church. In the times we prayed together, I remember thinking about how blessed I was to be there, but how much more blessed I would be one day to be doing the same thing with my own parishioners as a priest, if God wills it.
Experiences like the one I had this weekend fuel my desire to become a priest. God clearly spoke to me through the weekend, in the generosity and openness of my host family, in the incredibly packed Spanish Mass on Sunday and in the two Columbian priests’ love for their people, in the many immigrants’ personal yet familiar stories that they shared unreservedly, and in the fun and joy that I shared with my brother seminarians on this immersion into the Hispanic community. I pray that those who go on this weekend trip next year can experience and fuel their desire for the priesthood as well.
(Hugo Rodriguez, a seminarian of the Diocese of Davenport in Iowa, attends Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.)