Deacon Matt Kuczora, C.S.C., continues our week on the Spes Unica blog of exploring our missionary work in México by introducing us to our formation program in the country, which so far has formed three indigenous Mexican priests with more in the pipeline. Fresh off his Final Vows and Diaconate Ordination here in the States, Matt went to serve as the Candidate Program Director in Monterrey. He shares what he has learned on the job.
The time of discernment and formation is a delicate thing. It’s also a sacred thing. As the director of our Candidate Program in Monterrey, México, I am asked to walk with young men as they take the first formal steps in formation to be Holy Cross religious and continue their discernment of God’s call for their lives.
Young men come to us from many backgrounds. Some come right out of high school; others have worked for several years. Some come from our parish; others from distant parts of the country.
One of my candidates came to us a year ago after having dropped out of high school to work and support his family. This young man traveled around México for years following whatever work he could find – most of the time it was physical labor either in construction or agriculture. The scars on his hands tell the tale of how dangerous the work could be.
At one point, things were so bad that he found himself sleeping in public parks until a family, complete strangers, invited him to live with them while he worked. This young man knows all sorts of difficulties, and while he doesn’t have a diploma from any high school, he has certainly graduated from the school of life.
When he first began formation, this young man had been out of school for almost eight years. He admitted that he had forgotten how to add and subtract. Needless to say, he failed all of his classes in the first semester. That didn’t discourage him, though. He got tutors, worked even harder and dedicated himself to his studies, but also to ministry, community and prayer. I’m proud to say that last semester, he earned a 95% average over all his classes.
Not all of my experiences in formation have been as rewarding, but still this is privileged role in a sacred time. In the good times and the bad, I often remind myself of St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” I thank God for the opportunity to serve here and ask for the strength and the insight to do it well.