Archbishop's web site Denver Catholic Register Parishes Catholic Pastoral Center
May 30, 2001
Loving witness inspires call
Name: Hernan Florez
Place of birth: Cucuta, Colombia
Parish: St. Louis, Englewood
What or who inspired you to pursue a vocation to the priesthood?
Before entering the seminary I studied industrial technology and was working in Venezuela in my career. I was living a normal life but seldom went to church. November of 1990 ... I began to participate in a Neocathecumenal community within my parish. This community, which consisted of people of different ages, races, education, married, single and social strata, helped me to come to realize the universality of the Church and to come to know a real and sincere love among brothers and sisters a love, that I never even found among close relatives. This loving witness of my brothers and sisters of my community helped me discover God's call to something greater than being a simple worker in a foreign company.
In my vocation, which is missionary [and] priestly, those who have played an important role have been my catechists and the priest of my parish. In them I have seen how a Christian can give their life without payment for the salvation and the conversion of people in places like Colombia, having left their families hundreds of miles away so as to bring the Gospel message to people such as myself. I never had seen this kind of love for Christ where a person would leave everything for the announcement of the love of God. Their testimonies struck my heart, spoke to my life, causing me to reflect on what the Lord wanted for my life. Three years later, in a national meeting in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Chinchiquira, I felt the vocation to the priesthood. I had been afraid to make a decision fearing that the Lord would change my whole life. But the word of the Lord was more powerful than my fears. The Gospel of John touched my heart because I was like Peter having denied him all my life. I also saw that in this moment Jesus Christ came to show me his love and the forgiveness of my sins, and was again calling me. Thus, I was moved to follow and to say "yes."
How do you see your future role as a priest in a Christian community?
I see that my role as a priest in a Christian community is to walk with them in a mature way of faith, where I have the possibility to convert myself to God and, loving God, to serve others as Jesus Christ serves his Church.