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From star runner to seminarian


The Synod of Bishops is focused on two themes: young people and vocation. 

They go together, because the great idealism of youth allows great life decisions to be made. 

Theologian Giuseppe di Virgilio is participating as an expert in the synod. He says that vocation is the response to an invitation that God sows in every heart. It is a response that touches all areas of life.

FR. GIUSEPPE DI VIRGILIO
Expert of the Synod of Bishops
"The priestly ministry, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, is the expression of the pastoral nature of Christ, which is manifested through the service of being a priest. That is why I believe it is fundamental to grasp the beauty and richness of this vocation.”

This is what led Juan Carlos to change his life. This Guatemalan was an only child and the first in his family to go to school. From a young age, he accompanied his mother to Mass. 

When he was 12 years old, Chay discovered his love for running. As he increased his mileage, he felt a growing closeness between himself and the Church. 

JUAN CARLOS CHAY
Seminarian
“By running and running, I started liking it more and more. I went up in level until becoming part of the national team for my country. So I had the opportunity to represent my country in this sport, in track. I was specialized in the 3 kilometer, 5-kilometer, and 10-kilometer races. From that point on, I received support from the National Track federation and from the Guatemalan Olympic committee, but I always had that lingering desire to enter a seminary, to become a priest.”

His sports success delayed him from entering the priesthood. His surrender to God was delayed month after month, until a film about Padre Pio led him to make a final decision. Chay was so inspired by the Italian priest's devotion, that he began attending vocational meetings, and confirmed that he should enter seminary. There he combined his faith with his sport.

Chay believes that today's youth have incredible aspirations, but can easily lose their way when faced with so many distractions. He emphasizes the importance of young people leaning into their faith when working toward their goals. 

JUAN CARLOS CHAY
“It's true that the Church needs young people, but I believe that as young people, we are the ones who need the Church, because the Church is the way we get to know Christ. In knowing Christ, our paths are automatically illuminated.”

Chay has been in Rome for two years pursuing his calling at the International Ecclesiastical College, Sedes Sapientiae. Currently 28, he in his seventh year and hopes that within the next few years he can complete his studies and be ordained a priest.

He is convinced that this is his vocation and that with it he can help thousands of people.