by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Dr. Knight: Would you please share with us your early Catholic formation.
Francisco: I was born and raised in a Catholic family. I went to catechism during my childhood. I have been an altar server since I was 13 years old up until I was 20. I was a catechist for two years. It was a very blessed and uplifting experience.
Dr. Knight: Please tell us the significance of your high school years in formation.
Francisco: I was in a (public) school. My education was the standard high school curriculum for public schools in Puerto Rico.
Dr. Knight: You went to college and joined the seminary. How did you make that decision?
Francisco: I went to secular colleges in Puerto Rico. First, I finished my BA in Management. Then I did an MBA in Management of Information Security.
Dr. Knight: You are named after St. Francis, as is the Pope. How are you and the Pope alike?
Francisco: I really like Pope Francis and all his great work. I can say that all popes have their important contributions to the Church, but at this moment, Pope Francis is the Pastor that we need in the universal church. When he was chosen as the pope, I was watching it on TV, It was a very confirming vocational sign.
Dr. Knight: After you left Puerto Rico what was your next discernment?
Francisco: I came to Chicago in 2015, first I took English classes at UIC. Since I arrived, it became clear that I was coming to Chicago to see be a missionary priest. In 2016, I was accepted to start my formation at Mundelein Seminary in 2017. I was able to complete my MA in philosophy in 2019 here at Mundelein Seminary.
Dr. Knight: Do you think/feel that your life is somewhat a mosaic of your different gifts?
Francisco: Certainly, I can say that the Lord has used all those gifts to his purpose. I would con d like to give all my gifts to the Lord to make them available to those who need them. I can say that here in the seminary we have the great opportunity of growing in many informational areas. Also, here we learn how to be the best version of ourselves.
Dr. Knight: What do you want the readers to understand after reading this interview?
Francisco: I would like the readers to understand, the Lord is calling them to a vocation and we just need to be open and available to him. We just need to be open to God’s goodwill and he will do amazing things with us. If God calls you to be a priest, he will also help you respond and prepare.
Dr. Knight: What are some of the challenges of the future Church?
Francisco: it is clear that there are many challenges. For example, the returning of people to church after the COVID-19 crisis is a challenge. We, as Christians, have the ability to go out and reach out to those who need us. We are called to be there with a heart filled with charity and mercy for everyone.
Dr. Knight: What are some of the joys you’ve experienced as a follower of Christ?
Francisco: I found a lot of joys, for example, the fulfillment of being in a parish serving people is the source of great fulfillment in our vocation. After being in a parish during the whole summer, I was able to see how the parish priest is that pastor that takes care of his parishioners. Also, it is inspiring seeing how Christ gives us the grace to grow from each experience and to help others to be better. Having the encouragement of many people, who are praying for and supporting our vocation is a source of joy as well.
Dr. Knight: As a seminarian what are some of the duties that you perform/pray?
Francisco: Every day we have the grace of going to Holy Mass. As a part of our vocation, is important to continue to also pray outside of Mass. For this reason, praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary) every day helps us to sanctify each moment of the day. Also, we have the academic formation that helps us to grow in wisdom as we attend classes. I also practice sports after classes; in my case, I really enjoy hiking and walking. Also, In my leisure time, I like to paint and do wood carving. We help in parishes during weekends. So we go to a parish to be present at the Masses and to teach about the sacraments.
Dr. Knight: Thank you for this beautiful essay. You are truly a follower of Christ. We, as a Church, are grateful for all you are and do.