'I am yours for whatever you need'
Fr. Juan José had been baptized and made his First Communion because of his grandparents' wishes, but he did not have a relationship with God after that. "I made my Confirmation as I was right in the midst of the process of conversion, and it was a genuine gift. That day I told the Lord, 'I am yours for whatever you need.' My mother came but my father did not. It was a unique moment in my life to receive the Holy Spirit and to put my trust in the Lord."
For months, the young Juan José was resisting the call to the priesthood. "I told the Lord that I didn't want any hassles and to quit talking to me. Until I had to make a decision and it was to follow him, becoming a priest."
One Saturday afternoon when he was 17, Fr. Juan José told his father he wanted to go to the seminary. His father beat him and said that "he would be a priest over his dead body."
"They did not understand that I would want to be a priest. In fact, my father offered to pay for me to go to college in the United States but (he told me) he would never pay for the seminary."
In such a difficult moment, Fr. Juan José recalled that all he could think of was the prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila: "Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All you need is God" and when his father stopped rebuking him, the young man gave him a hug and said to him, "I knew you were going to react like that, but I also knew that one day you'd understand."
In fact, his father went so far as to threaten to report the pastor to the police if kept helping his son discern his vocation. "My father was trying everything, but the Lord is stronger," he said.
To obey his father, Fr. Juan José could not start the seminary, and so he began to study teaching at the University of Almeria. For years he was patient, and continued to be faithful to his vocation to the priesthood. Until one day in May 1999, as he recalled, his mother told him that she had spoken to his father and that finally he would let him enter the seminary. "I began to cry and cry. I remember when I told the pastor about it he said "welcome" and gave me a great big hug."
In September 2000, he finally entered the seminary.
In 2006, Fr.Juan José was ordained in the Almeria cathedral and his father even attended the ceremony. "In no way did he want me to become a priest, but he saw that I was happy and even though he was totally anticlerical, he decided that the happiness of his son came before his ideology and if I was happy, even though he didn't understand it, he would have to accept it. "
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In fact, he recalled that two years ago, "before dying, my father received the Anointing of the Sick. And it was I who administered it to him."
"When somebody tells me he doesn't believe in God, I always tell him that neither did I believe in Him, but I was mistaken, because I have discovered the genuine happiness that Jesus has given to me. If you're not completely happy, ask the Lord to help you, because only He will give you the happiness that your heart needs."
This article was originally published on CNA March 6, 2017.