.- The Spanish daily El Mundo recently published an interesting collection of testimonies of uncommon religious vocations: widows and widowers, with children and grandchildren, who have become priests and religious. In the article entitled, “The reservists of the Church,” reporter Jose Manuel Vidal presents testimonies like that of Father Manuel Villa, married during 35 years, with 4 children and 12 grandchildren, “who left his job as a truck driver to become a priest. Since 1996 he has been a priest in Valladolid.”
Another case is that of Francisco Sanchez Alias, 74, who was supervisor at a company with more than 1,500 employees. One day he and his wife were in a car , in which she perished. “When Francisco regained consciousness he was in the hospital without his wife. ‘I asked about her, and after they avoided me for a while the doctor came and told me she had died. At that moment religious life flashed in my mind.’ Four years later, he became a Cistercian and today is Abbot of the Monastery of La Oliva in Navarre,” the paper reports.
The 2nd Lieutenant
With 5 children and 12 grandchildren, “Benito Santos Santorum, 87, was 2nd Lieutenant during Spain’s Civil War, which he calls ‘a crusade of liberation’.” He fought on different fronts and eventually ended up in Africa, where he spent 13 years. “Until one day he became a widower ‘in less than half an hour.’ Six months after the death of his wife, Benito decided to join the priesthood, aware that ‘they probably won’t want me because of my age.’ He was ordained in 1994 at the age of 76. On Sundays he substitutes for pastors of rural parishes. ‘I have traveled over 18,000 miles during the last five years,’ he said. ‘For God there are no ages. I am happy because I am enveloped in God,’ Father Benito said’.”
A nun with 10 children
The article also features the case of Sister Julia Martin. “On some Sundays of the year, the Augustinian monastery of St. Joseph and St. Ann in L’Olleria is filled with voices of the 18 grandchildren of Sister Julia, 80, a widow with 10 children, who entered the convent at the age of 73.”
“She says she is completely happy because ‘Christ is total happiness.’ The superior of the monastery, Sister Praxedes, said St. Julia’s vocation has great value, ‘because she has left behind so much more than we have.’ But she does not consider herself important and sees herself as just another sister.”