Who said you can’t?


By Francisco Javier Reyes

There are times in life when the challenges are so great it seems they cannot be overcome. Ricardo Rangel had many reasons to feel this way. His life has not been easy: he has endured the experiences of migration, leukemia, and cultural adaptation; however, this 28-year-old Claretian seminarian has persevered in following his call.

A native of Guanajuato, Mexico, he was born and raised in the heart of a simple family, marked by migration. His father lived and worked in the United States, so Rangel did not meet him until he was 6 years old. His faith grew between the altars of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Sunday Mass.

At the age of 16 he faced another definitive change in his life; he came to the United States with his family, leaving his country behind and with it many hopes. He arrived with the American dream, eager to work. “I thought I would work in the farms, but I ended up working with a friend in her office. Later I started as a salesman and it was going well,” he said.

During this time he set aside his inclinations toward priestly life, which he had felt since he was a child. He was, however, still involved in the parish, working in youth ministry. At the age of 20, he once again felt the call strongly, during a soap opera dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Rangel contacted the vocational promoter for the Diocese of Fresno, California and initiated a process of discernment.

Everything seemed to be going well, until life took a radical turn when he was diagnosed with leukemia. The personal challenge led him to interrupt the vocational process. With little hope, Rangel went to his priest to resign from his position in youth ministry, alleging that he could not continue with his responsibilities. To his surprise, the priest simply said, “And who said you can’t?”

The battle with cancer lasted two and a half years, between therapies and visits to the doctor. There were difficult times, but his experience with God led him to move forward. Rangel describes himself as a happy young man and a good Latino, who loves to party. He says that at the same time he received the news of his illness, he got a ticket for a concert to see one of his favorite artists and considered it a sign: “Just like I received this concert ticket, my leukemia is my ticket to heaven.”

After the battle with cancer he began to pursue a normal life, without thinking about religious life, until in 2010 he encountered the Claretian Missionaries at a religious congress and was impressed by their work in Fresno. He decided to restart the process and is now in the early stages of formation, with a great desire in his heart to continue to persevere and live as a Claretian priest, working for the migrant people. “Just like I found a place in the Church, I believe that everyone can also find it,” he says.

 

 

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