By Diane Perry
What inspires a young man to become a priest? Everyone has their own story. Luis Ron, the Seminarian intern at St. Mary Parish, is one such seminarian with a unique story that led to his lifechanging decision.
Luis grew up in Tepic, Mexico, which is a small city near Guadalajara and the Pacific Ocean. His first priestly inspiration came when he was a young child just finishing secondary school. His mother’s uncle was a priest in Guadalajara, and Luis looked up to him. “He created in me this curiosity, so I attended Masses with him,” said Luis. He added that his family didn’t normally attend church services, so this was the opening of his heart to the church.
As time went on, Luis said his second inspiration came from an elderly neighbor who lived near his home. “She prayed the Rosary, went to Mass, and attended Holy Hour regularly,” recalled Luis. “She asked me to accompany her, so I picked her up for church services.” He eventually came to view her as his “teacher in faith.”
As he grew stronger in his faith, Luis began to have conversations with a local pastor named Father Jesus. “We became friends, and he inspired me through the way he performed the holy sacraments,” said Luis, who liked the way Father Jesus celebrated the Eucharist and how he generously helped the poor and sick.
“There was a man who was losing his sight, and no one was able to help him. Father Jesus sent this man to Cuba where they were researching to develop treatments for illnesses.” Luis went on to explain that Father Jesus covered the man’s travel and housing expenses. Through Father Jesus’ devotion, love and compassion for people, the man was miraculously able to regain his eyesight.
Luis said his journey to the priesthood evolved over time, and his parents were supportive of his decision. After high school, he began college at the University of Nayarit but quit to join Seminary in 2010. He was twenty-one years old at the time. After completing the first few years of classes, Luis entered his first year of theology. At this time, Father Burke Masters of the Diocese of Joliet visited the Hispanic/American Seminary in Mexico and spoke with many of the seminarians there.
“Father Burke Masters, the Joliet Vocational Director, invited me to come to Joliet,” said Luis, who decided to take up the offer and arrived in the United States on February 25, 2019.
Adjusting to a New Country
Transitioning to life in the U.S. wasn’t easy, especially with the language barrier. Luis enrolled at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) for English courses. Upon completion, he passed the TOEFL test in November 2019. He had learned English in only 9 months. Equipped with the English language, Luis entered Mundelein Seminary and began to study theology.
Today, Luis is completing a 12-week internship at St. Mary Parish. He is staying with Father Dindo at the Rectory until May 1st, 2022 (the sixth intern to do so). “Father Dindo is very supportive of me, and I am happy to learn from him,” he said. His duties as an intern include assisting Father Dindo with financial, staff, and school meetings.
As part of his internship, Luis also attends Monday and Friday Masses and gives inspiring reflections based on the day’s Gospel reading. He can help with any parish Masses as needed. In addition, he helps out with the RCIA Liturgy.
As for community work, he added, “I will be visiting people at the nursing homes as well as patients at the hospitals. Some of the patients are in Hospice.”
Luis has two more years left in seminary. In 2023, he will become a Deacon, and in 2024 he will be ordained a Priest. This will be upon completion of the third and fourth year of the Theologian courses at the Seminary.
When asked about prayer life, Luis advised, “When we are praying it should be with our mind, heart, and soul.” The love that Luis has for Jesus encourages him to help people. “Along with praying for them we should extend ourselves to help people on a human level as well. Prayers and actions need to work together.”
In the past, Luis felt frustrated and lonely due to the challenges of having to learn a new language in a different country. Not to mention the difficult coursework. But now he feels fulfilled. “I feel happy,” he said.
When Luis becomes a priest, he wants to help the Hispanic Community by integrating them more into the life of the church. “I want to motivate them because something is missing within the Hispanic community,” he said. “I want to help them understand.” His plan is to stay in Joliet.
With Luis’ special calling to become a priest, he is rewarded with a blessing to spread the word and works of Jesus to so many people and communities in so many ways. His genuine, loving smile shows how much love and compassion he has for people and shows it is truly from his heart.