The Diocese of Santa Clara, Cuba now has two new priests who both converted to Catholicism as teens, despite anti-Christian efforts launched by the country's communist regime in the 1950s.
Fathers Neldo Jose Hernandez Alonso and Maykel Aguila Moya – both 33-years-old – were raised in families where the faith was not practiced due to social pressure and the risk involved with being a Catholic in Cuba.
“I was born into a family with excellent human values but not those based on the Christian faith and values, which are really the most important ones,” said Father Maykel Aguila Moya.
“Religious practice in my family was unfortunately forgotten because of the lack of practice, because of social pressure or fear.”
The Bishops' Conference of Cuba reported that Bishop Marcelo Gonzalez Amador of Santa Clara presided at the Aug. 11 ordination. He thanked God for the new priests and their families and the Christian communities for accompanying them in their vocations.
He also reminded the new priests that the priesthood is a great gift that demands vocation and fidelity to Christ, to the bishop and to the community they serve.
In a story published in 2009 by the blog Creerencuba.org, then-seminarian Maykel said that unlike his brother, he was not baptized as an infant because “expressing certain religious beliefs could endanger us in society.”
“As a child my mother went to church and received the sacraments of Christian initiation, but when things began to change, she slowly began to forget about her faith.
As a child I always wondered why the kids who went to church were considered different at school; and yet, to me they were the best students and the most educated.”
However, when he was 13-years-old, his father died and he began to ask questions “about human existence and about life after death.”
“Some friends invited me to go to church and...after that my life changed, I began to know who Jesus of Nazareth was,” Maykel said.
“I was just like any other young person, with my dreams and hopes. I have had jobs and have done without like every other Cuban, but with the difference that I know that I have a God who I can trust, and with Him I should not fear nothing or nobody, as He is always with me,” he said.