Dream Awake with Father Luis of St. Agnes Parish in Key Biscayne

I know we have been spotlighting many amazing people who have worked hard to achieve a dream.
Most of these dreamers have become great artists, business owners and more;
but, have you ever thought a religious vocation could also be a dream?

I know a few of my friends are currently walking down the road of discernment and I wanted to find an inspirational dreamer who also walked down that same road.
I found him.
In my church.
He happens to be the Priest.
And is very passionate about his vocation and very convincing, so convincing I know help lead a youth group of 100 middle and high school kids on the island.
I am excited to get to know them in the upcoming weeks!

But now, let's DREAM AWAKE with Father Luis!

1. Growing up, what did you dream of being one day?  
Growing up I had many of the usual dreams as my contemporaries, and perhaps every young boy, I dreamt of being a police officer, a fireman, a medical doctor, etc.  I, like most young boys, wanted to be a super-hero!  I would also "play mass" every once in a while but never really thought of becoming a priest until I was reaching adolescence. 

2.  Did you always feel the pull to enter into religious life? 
With the life of a normal teenager, I did feel some pull or attraction to the religious life.  I would assist in various ministries in my home parish and befriended the priests of the parish--as a matter of fact the one who often encouraged my vocation would vest me years later at my ordination--in watching the way they lived and their joy allowed me to ask myself whether the Lord was calling me to live this vocation.

3.  When you said "yes" to Christ, did you feel you were giving up your childhood dreams or finally finding your purpose/fulfilling your ultimate dream/vocation?
As one matures one begins to realize that the Lord speaks to us through our desires.  The work we have to do is to discern, that is place our desires before the Lord and understand if that is His will or our own imagining.  As I embarked on the 10 year journey towards Ordination in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, I understood more clearly that this is what the Lord was calling me to.  In hindsight, my childhood desires can be boiled down to a vocation of service.  This is what the priesthood is precisely, to serve others to encounter the Living God.

4. What advice do you offer some of your church members, who are not sure what there dreams are?  And are not sure if religious life is a calling for them?
In the Gospel of Luke the Lord exhorts us:  "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:34)  Where is your treasure?  Where are your desires?  If you can identify them then you ought to put them to the test before the Lord and enter into dialogue if that is what He wants from you.  The bottom line is that the Lord desires wholeheartedly for us to love Him unconditionally and to do so with great joy.  If He is calling you to religious life, or any other vocation, He will show you how you can be happy.  I do caution you that nowhere is it implied that it will be easy and free of challenges.  What I can assure you is that the challenges placed before you in whichever your vocation may be will be bearable because you are not carrying the load on your own.

5. What bible verse or quote do you think of for encouragement - that reminds you each day to keep following Christ and fulfilling the beautiful vocation he has called you too?

Matthew 10:28-31 which reads:
"and do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows"  

Thank you Father Luis for taking the time to share your vocational journey with us!! I get chills every time I read your answers! 

I know your story is going to help many people understand that a dream can consist of many things, and answering God's call to religious life can be one of them too.  That is the beauty of God's call to action - he put's our dreams as desires on our hearts.  Sometimes it is a call to be a wonderful parent, an artist, a social worker, a nurse, a scientist, a CEO that helps employee many, a doctor, a missionary and much more.  
Never doubt that desire on your heart.

<3 Shay

P.S. Are any of your friends considering being a missionary, religious, pastor etc.  I would love to hear about how they said, "yes!"
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