God does not find you by chance

By Elisabeth Román

For Fr. Italo Dell'Oro, C.R.S., every encounter is an opportunity to connect with young people who are called to serve God and his children. One evening of Advent about 11 years ago, the vocation director for Somascan Fathers was at a church helping with confession. Afterwards, they gathered in the rectory for a fraternal meal. There was a young man by the name of Romualdo López, who had accompanied one of the priests and desired to speak about his vocation. 

Fr. Dell'Oro invited him to visit with their religious community, where they had their first conversation. An immigrant from Mexico, López was working as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. He had also been in the seminary many years before in Puebla, Mexico, but left because he felt unsure. Yet, the “bug”, as Fr. Dell'Oro calls it, of a priestly vocation had remained with him.

“Within about six month after our first meeting, we invited Romualdo to come stay with us overnight. We did not have a house of formation as such, although we were getting ready to open one the following year. He followed us in the new house of formation in Houston, where he began his postulancy, attending ESL classes and getting ready for his novitiate,” Fr. Dell'Oro said.

López was the only candidate from Houston, so he was sent to Campinas, S.P. Brazil, where he completed his novitiate. Afterwards he went to Mexico City to study theology. All the while Fr. Dell'Oro remained in contact with him. Finally, as López approached the end of his theological studies at the Pontifical University of Mexico City, the Somascans were also able to finalize his visa.

Five years ago, López returned to Houston to complete his formation, where he made his final vows and was ordained a deacon. The following year, he returned to his hometown of Puebla where surrounded by his large family, friends, and several Somascans from Mexico, López was ordained a priest. Today Father Romualdo Lopez, C.R.S. is ministering at Christ the King Parish in Houston. He is actively involved with the Hispanic youth in both parishes that are staffed by the Somascan Fathers, as well as in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where he is the spiritual adviser of the “Encuentros de Promoción Juvenil” movement.

The “Company of the Servants of the Poor” formally began in 1535 when St. Jerome Emiliani, Universal Patron of Orphans,  called together his helpers and companions for a general assembly in Somasca, a tiny village north of Milan, near Lake Como, Italy. Pope St. Pius V constituted the community as a Religious Order in 1568 with the name, “Order of the Regular Clerics from Somasca” (CRS) or, Somascan Fathers.  About 500 Somascans serve the poor in 20 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, Albania, India, Australia, Sri Lanka and Nigeria.

Fr. Dell'Oro says, “a casual meeting during a sacramental function, followed by a fraternal and joyful dinner with brother priests from the archdiocese and different religious communities, became the beginning of the final and decisive step of one man's inquietud vocacional. Fr. Romualdo has often expressed his gratitude to us for having given him “a chance”. He, too, gave a chance. In the end, it is God the one to whom our gratefulness rises.”

For reflection

What push do you need to decide your vocation? Do you feel a persistent call, but feel unsure?


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