Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Please see the letter below from Leonardo Orellana who is a seminarian in the Archdiocese of Washington.
My name is Leonardo Orellana and I am a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington. Fr. Steven has asked me to share a little bit of my life with the parish as my vocation began here.
The first years of life were spent in Marlborough, where my family shared an apartment with my uncles and aunt. Soon after, due to my mother's wish for me to enter elementary school without waiting an additional year, we moved to Worcester. It was there that a significant portion of my history was written.
My life from an outsider's point of view seems almost ideal: an older sister and a younger brother, both parents present, a house for ourselves and on top of it faith. However, my life was a bit more complicated than that. I had some difficulties relating to my sister, my parents' relationship was not doing any better, to the point of divorce. Up until this point, the "religious life" was there; we went to mass every Sunday here at Immaculate Conception, portraying the happy family while at the same time hiding our many defects. I was left in doubt, questioning what purpose the Church served in my life.
I began to live a double life, attending Church with what remained of my family while simultaneously trying to live my life in the world. I stayed out of the house as much as possible, doing sports, hanging out with my friends, anything that would get me away from my reality. My grades in school were plummeting, yet I kept reassuring my mom that it was under control, that I could handle it on my own. As much as I believed this to be true, the reality was that I was lost, that I had no sense of where this life was taking me.
Then, one day I was brought to a series of talks from the Neocatechumenal Way, that announced to me the news that God loved me as I was. I had no immediate response to this for I still could not fully comprehend the weight of these words, but my ears began to open and from that moment I began slowly to listen to the voice of God. With only listening, I began to understand, not scripture or theological dissertations, but my life. I could now see the events of my history with more clarity, that God did not make a mistake but every moment of my life was necessary for me to have an encounter with God. I became more involved in the Church, I wanted to know where God would lead me and soon enough, it was evident that God wanted me to do more than listen. During a pilgrimage, I found myself being called by God to the vocation of the priesthood. Although, I knew that he was asking me, I doubted for a time, not knowing if for sure God was calling me and if I wanted to put my life in the hands of God. This precariousness was new for me, to leave all my securities behind, afraid of what my friends would think. Nonetheless, God gave me a free will to say no and was patient to wait for me to give him an answer. I knew the answer I should give, and that time of discernment was needed for me to understand that I do not need to worry because it is God who will take care of everything. In a single moment, I said to God "do it quick before I turn back" and the next moment I found myself being sent to the seminary in Washington. Although I am in the seminary, there are temptations and struggles that everyone goes through. My vice rector makes it clear what the problem is: "it is not a question of vocation, but a question of faith." I give thanks to God for having me in the seminary, in this way I am alone with God to have an intimate dialogue with him, I can reconcile with my history and overall I am taught to be a Christian and to lean on Christ. Coming back to Massachusetts on this summer break also helps me to appreciate everything that God is doing for me. If in a leap of faith God brought me to the seminary and has helped me a lot, I can't imagine what other marvels he can do in my life. I do ask you to please pray for me, as I pray for you.
Father Steven Clemence