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Rome Reports

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Cardinals tell stories of their vocaction

Cardinal Francis Arinze"In the final analysis no one knows why a particular individual is attracted to the priesthood, religious life or marriage.  But analysing it in our own weak, human way, I can say when I was a boy, there was a parish priest we had – Father Michael Tanzi – who impressed many of us.  Many boys in the area wanted to become like him, so they wanted to become priests."Cardinal Javier Lozano BarragonPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care"I became a priest because of a calling from God our Lord, following a process of reason. You have the capacity to be a priest. You can say yes or no. God our Lord, according to this capacity, asks something of you. What do you say, yes or no? Well, I said yes, and the problem was solved."Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect, Congregation for the Causes of Saints"I received my vocation when I was little. Maybe because at home we received missionary magazines, I always wanted to be a missionary priest to go to missionary lands."Cardinal Julián HerranzPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts"Mi initial vocation was not to be a priest, but to be a numerary of Opus Dei. I was a doctor, specialized in psychiatry and I was preparing to be a university professor in Spain."Cardinal í?scar Andrés Rodrí­guez MaradiagaArchbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras"I grew up in a Salesian atmosphere, and from the beginning I was struck by the figure of the Salesian close to young people, friend of young people, playing with them, that is capable of playing and singing any instrument."Cardinal Julián HerranzPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts"The founder of Opus Dei asked me to continue my studies in theology in Rome to lay the groundwork for Canon law, instead of going to Germany to do postgraduate studies in psychiatry.Cardinal Francis Arinze"My parents were of the African traditional religion..  The ordinary religion around when the missionaries came, it wasn’t that they believed in one God, good and bad spirits, ancestors, and worshipped ancestors and spirits – not a bad idea.  Not a bad preparation for Christianity, but..."Cardinal Francis Arinze"Our parents sent us to school, all the children.  And gradually in the school we learned about the Catholic faith. We wanted baptism so I was baptised at the age of 9, but it doesn’t mean that I was a staunch member of, let us say, the African traditional religion at the age of 9 years.  How much would I know?  So that’s my background.  My parents were not Christians at that time, but later on they became Christians, but they didn’t persuade me to go to seminary."Cardinal í?scar Andrés Rodrí­guez MaradiagaArchbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras"I’m about to celebrate 35 years of priesthood. I have been Bishop for 26 years, four years of being cardinal and I’ve never regretted anything or felt sad for the decision I made. I would do it again immediately."Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect, Congregation for the Causes of Saints"Though I always wanted to do missionary work, God had other plans. My superiors sent me to Rome to seminary school. Then I was ordained priest, and I’ve been in Rome ever since."Cardinal Julián HerranzPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts"In life, it’s important to do God’s will so that your soul is at peace. The founder of Opus Dei wanted me to come to Rome, I didn’t doubt that. I exchanged my train ticket for Germany to Rome and I’ve been here ever since, tranquil and happy because I always did God’s will."Cardinal Francis Arinze"That’s the human explanation I can give.  Actually that priest later became a monk, and became Blessed – he’s beatified now.  But the original of a priestly or religious vocation – only Divine Providence can fully analyse it, how God attracts a person at that age 11, 12, 13..."