Sunday, February 26, 2012

Come Follow Me

" Testimony of Fr. Edward A. Sousa "

"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt. 4:19). When I was a teenager, I could remember hearing this saying of Jesus read at Mass, but never did its importance actually affect me in my life, until I turned the age of twenty-six. I would say that I began to experience a turning point to respond generously to this call.



When I was a child, up to my teenage years and into my early adulthood, I had no desire whatsoever to become a priest. In fact, I remember sitting in a Career Day lecture in high school with an image in my mind of an ideal planned life for myself. I would go to college, get a good education, earn a decent amount of money, get married, have a family of my own, eventually become a grandfather and,finally,enjoy retirement in my old age.

So, what happened to me between the years of my childhood into early adulthood?
 Well, my desire to follow my set plan in life grew stronger and I had a set goal of getting a good education in the field that interest me. I developed an interest in culinary arts and decided in my senior year that I wanted to become a professional chef. Therefore, upon graduating, I enrolled at Johnson & Wales University. Two years later I graduated with an Associate of Occupational Science degree in culinary arts and I was what you would call a "professional chef."

I made decent money and was happy. All during this time I was what you would call the "average" Catholic. I went to church every Sunday, although many times half-heartedly, and was doing the best I could to be faithful to my beliefs. I was always a person with much joy, and had a wonderful family. I also dated off and on, and I had many friends.
However, I felt that there was still something missing. I was searching and looking for a meaning to my life. I began to figure out that the things of the world could not provide me with this so called "purpose" and "meaning" in life. I realized that maybe it was only God that could truly provide me with what I was looking for.

I slowly developed a desire to pray the Rosary. I always had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. The more I prayed, I felt my love and relationship to Jesus growing. I started to understand what many great saints throughout the Catholic Church have said for centuries. The main purpose of our love for the Blessed Mother is, "to lead us closer to her Son Jesus, for the good of our salvation."

I found myself paying more attention to the Holy Mass, feeling a hunger for God's Word, and remembering the bible readings. I was going to confession more frequently. In my spare time, I went to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament rather than going out with my friends.

I began to get involved in church through the generosity of my current pastor, Father Reinaldo Cardoso, in all area of the parish life. My mother asked me, "Have you ever thought about priesthood?" The question caught me off guard. I tried to avoid the question with nervous laughs, but I began to realize things were changing in my life and it would only be a matter of time. I spent time asking myself, "Why would God be calling me?" I was not sure if God was truly calling me.
It was May of 1995, during a special holy hour at my parish, that I met a young visiting priest from East Timor. He asked me, "Have you ever thought about priesthood?"
 I felt a moment of grace and the question hit me like a "ton of bricks." This time I did not shrug it off. It was then that I met with Father Cardoso, and told him my thoughts.

My parents were not surprised and were extremely happy with my desire to follow Christ in the priesthood. In August of 1995, I left my paying job and in September I entered the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence. I enrolled in Providence College and began the first two-year program.
I can find no way to measure the tremendous experience I have had in the course of spiritual formation.
.
 In the summer of 1996, I traveled to a popular Marian shrine at Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During my visit, I met a married couple, Patrick and Nancy Latta, who were originally from Canada and now living in Medjugorje.
I told Nancy that I found my seminarian life very difficult and at times, I felt like giving it all up. Without hesitation, she looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me, "Edward, always remember one thing. God does not want you to do great things, but to do simple things with great love." I felt at that moment, God's infinite mercy and grace. From that day forward, to this present day, I have never again looked back in God's calling to the priesthood."

Prayer for a Priest
  
 O Jesus, our great High Priest, Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father Edward A. Sousa, Jr. Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.
In his loneliness, comfort him In his sorrows, strengthen him In his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.
O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.
Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
Amen.

3 comments:

Ed Sousa, Sr. said...

Thank You Daily Grace

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Hi,

You've been nominated for an Award on my Blog.

God bless.

Colleen said...

Beautiful article. Thanks for sharing it.