Francisco Jimenez Araya is 30 years old and has suffered from terminal cancer since last November. He has faced his illness with courage and although at some point he may have thought his life’s dream would never come true, it did just a few days ago: he was ordained to the priesthood.
Last June he was ordained a deacon and was preparing for ordination to the priesthood when he was diagnosed with the illness. Soon he began to receive treatment at a Hospital in Santiago.
Known by friends and family as “Panchito,” Jimenez was ordained a priest on January 11 at the Holy Cure de Ars Home, a home for priests in Santiago, during a ceremony led by Bishop Rafael de la Barra of Illapel.
Panchito chose a verse from Psalm 99 as his priestly motto: “Serve the Lord with joy.”
During his homily, Bishop De la Barra said that with his testimony the new priest is offering “a great service to the Church and the infirm that live with him, showing them hope and faith in God.”
He added that Father Jimenez is now a priest forever and that “despite his illness, a miracle is always possible.”
“He can be treated as a priest with all appropriateness. Proof of that is his ability to celebrate Mass even when he must be confined to a wheelchair,” the bishop said.
Before returning to the hospital, the new priest told reporters his ordination came at a time when his treatment was on hold, and he said that although he was happy being a deacon, the dream of his life was to become a priest.