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placeholder  October 15, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA

A day in the life of Diocese of Oakland seminarians, from top left: David Mendoza Vela preaches; Rafael Garcia at Communion; Mass in the main chapel of St. Patrick Seminary; Alberto Pérez in the library; Luis López in class; and seminarians gather for breakfast.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice

A day in the life of a seminarian

We have seen seminarians in different parishes, at Masses helping, working with young people, participating in parish groups or performing other pastoral work.

But, have you ever wondered what life is like for these young men who decided to devote their lives to God?

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Latino seminarians at St. Patrick's Seminary invite the public to a Mass and free dinner in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at
5:30 p.m. Nov. 30.

St. Patrick, 320 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park

For reservations:
650-325-5621

Thinking about
religious life?


The Diocese of Oakland has 29 seminarians.

"God can call you in different ways and at different times," said seminarian David Mendoza. "If you are interested in the priestly life, don't be afraid. Talk to a priest."

For more information:

Rev. Kenneth Nobrega
knobrega@oakdiocese.org
510-267-8345

Rev. Sergio Lopez
slopez@oakdiocese.org
510-267-8342
www.oaklandvocations.org

 
The Catholic Voice spent a day with four seminarians — men studying to be priests — of the Diocese of Oakland currently going to school at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park.

David Mendoza, Alberto Perez, Luis Lopez and Rafael Garcia are enrolled in fourth, third, second and first years of theology, respectively.

Their day starts at 7 a.m. with class prayers in different chapels. At 8 a.m., the seminarians join with their teachers at Mass. Breakfast is at 9 a.m., and classes run from 9:40 a.m. until 5 p.m., with breaks as in any university.

Mendoza, who was ordained a deacon Sept. 29, said each year of theology offers a different experience.

"The fourth year is dedicated to the sacramental — participating in wedding celebrations and preaching at Mass," said Mendoza, 31, a native of El Salvador who is assigned now to help in Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont.

Mendoza decided to become a priest after seeing the example of a priest he met in a remote village in his homeland. The priest had worked for 40 years in the same church. "His death shocked me. He died from malnutrition, by giving to others … (his) witness of holiness and service moved me," said Mendoza, who worked the past three years at St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Oakland.

For Alberto Perez, the call to serve God came early. "I always think about when I was an altar boy in Mexico, the fact of having known many priests who helped and inspired me at the altar, and the way we care for the community, pastorally and spiritually. I wanted to enter the seminary and at 16 I did while still in high school," said Perez, who said he enjoys the community life, prayer and sports.

This new school year, Perez will be working in different parishes with Latino youth groups.

Luis Lopez had been a teacher in El Salvador for 10 years when he realized he needed not only material, but spiritual satisfaction. "I thought it was a way to help through the priesthood, so I wanted to enter the seminary." But Lopez was rejected because of his age — he was more than 30 years old. In Costa Rica, he was able to enter religious life, and he continued his religious education in Mexico and now at St. Patrick's.

At 41, Lopez is doing his ministry in one of the areas he likes: adult education in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont.

Also working at Holy Spirit is Rafael Garcia, who is in his first year of the seminary. As a youth, he studied catechism in El Salvador, and after several years was encouraged to enter the seminary, aided by the invitation of a Franciscan friar in 2007.

By late afternoon, they retreat to their rooms to work on school and parish assignments. The day ends with Vespers at 5:10 p.m., when one prays the Liturgy of the Hours. Afterward there is time for reflection and dinner.

Outside of class and parish work, seminarians play sports — soccer is a favorite of Perez. Saturdays are the most relaxed, time for friends and family, movies, going out to dinner, music or just relaxing.

 
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