Cali seminarian embraces challenges of priestly studies

Arthur Torres Barona served internship at St. Mary in Johnson City

Arthur Torres Barona is a Theology III student at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis. He recently completed an internship at St. Mary Parish in Johnson City. He is the son of Duvan Torres Gil and Ana Julia Barona of Cali, Colombia.

What is your most challenging course in seminary?

Canon law might be one of the most challenging courses that I have had during my theological formation. One of its goals is to make possible that the people of God live according to their faith and tradition. It is a kind of challenge to bring people into it to understand fully God’s will through the Church’s law. Though it challenges me, too, I think that canon law must be seen as something that invites and encourages people to live out their faith in the Catholic Church and not to keep them away from it.

What is your favorite course?

I would say eschatology (which is concerned about “the last and future realities”: death, purgatory, heaven, and hell) because along with some other courses that I’ve been taught, this one teaches me and invites me to improve my life while being here on earth; to be a better person, to do well, to be right and watch what I do. This is a course that instead of providing fear or anguish produces hope and joy in me to know that God is loving and merciful and is always there waiting for us with his arms open when for some reason we turn away from him.

What do you most look forward to in your future life as a priest?

I’m not very sure about how it would be because there are so many challenges that always come ahead. Even when you prepared so well yourself you will find something that you didn’t expect. But certainly there are some exciting things that I look forward to as a future priest. I’m pursuing to be a good human and spiritual resource for the Diocese of Knoxville and for the whole Church. I would like to be creative and plant in every heart the seed of charity and unity, making parishioners excited about one common cause for the diocese.

Who are your inspirations as a seminarian, and why?

It was a priest who at that time was the pastor in my home parish in Cali, Colombia, and afterwards my spiritual director. He lived his Catholic faith and his priesthood in such a manner that he became for us in youth ministry our model and example to love and serve God without measure or reserve. He was truly a champion of faith and a seeker of the most needed.

When did you first consider the priesthood?

I can say openly that no one told me or asked me to become a priest. When I was 8 years old, I already started to feel God’s calling to the priesthood. My parents used to bring us (my brothers and me) every Tuesday to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in my city. I think these were the strongest moments where I felt God’s call, as the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying the novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the Rosary and Holy Mass made me experience once more my desire to become a priest.

What things about you have changed the most as a seminarian?

The first and most important thing that has changed in my life is the personal relationship I had with God before entering the seminary. During the time I have been in the seminary, my relationship with God has been growing a lot. Now I have a better sense and understanding of how important the sacraments are for me. Before entering the seminary I used to go to Mass but I did not experience what I experience now. It is in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that I have found a lot of meaning in my life. The seminary life has helped me to develop a very profound personal relationship in which I have come to know God and realize his purpose for my life.

Along with their prayers for you, is there another way East Tennessee Catholics can support you?

I would like to say thanks to those who pray for us and for the fulfillment of our vocation in the priesthood. But also I would like to call upon the Christian families of the diocese to open their hearts in guiding and allowing their sons and daughters to follow Jesus’ way, either in the priesthood or in the religious consecrated life. n

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