Carlos Parra Rubio
Carlos Parra Rubio, 30, the fifth of 11 children, is a native of Mexico. As a young boy he already felt the call to serve as a priest, he says. He came to the United States with his brothers when he was 15. And he was part of the first group that established the Spanish Mass at the Catholic diocesan church in Franklin, N.C., composed of 200 English-speaking and 500 Spanish-speaking parishioners.
"Glenmary had just returned our church to the diocese after leading it for a long time, so I knew about Glenmary," Carlos says.
"I was a youth minister, Hispanic minister and sacristan and later a translator of homilies—and I became more sure I wanted to be a priest." He even attended a Hispanic laity training program to prepare himself as a leader. After he became fluent in English, he was also able to serve as a bridge between the two language communities within his parish. In the meantime, he earned his GED certificate.
When Carlos was 22, a Hispanic deacon from North Carolina introduced him to Father Steve Pawelk, Glenmary's former vocation director, at a Eucharistic Congress. The deacon knew about Carlos' vocation hopes and about Glenmary. Carlos and Father Steve talked, Carlos became more interested in Glenmary, and he soon began a three-year process of discernment with Glenmary.
As an aspirant with Glenmary, Carlos is living in Mexico, where he has been studying philosophy at San Juan de los Lagos Seminary. The year 2013 is a pastoral year for Carlos in direct service to his parish community while he waits for approval of his student visa, which will allow him to travel to the United States and study English as a Second Language (ESL) at Divine Word College beginning in January 2014. He would then continue on with his Glenmary priestly formation—including theology studies and the Glenmary novitiate program—leading to ordination as a Glenmary priest.
His main activity during the 2013 pastoral year has been organizing youth group activities in his parish, which includes regularly hosting retreats for youth in the outlying areas of the parish. His parish also has some small mission outposts that Carlos visits when the pastor is not able. Carlos celebrates Word and Communion services for the faithful on those weekends. In addition, he holds a number of formation classes for the many religious education teachers in the parish.
The formator of the seminary told Father Steve he was very grateful to have Carlos there because he brings such leadership and maturity to the group. He previously gained experience by serving a nearby Catholic community in many ministries—home visits, religious education, development of a choir and development of lay leadership. In addition, he previously worked at another parish in Mexico during the summer of 2010.
Carlos says that "Glenmary really appeals to me because I've already been doing mission work—and because Glenmary priests work with small mission communities and with immigrants and Hispanics. I already have many of the skills and much of the experience I'll probably need when I'm a pastor, like being the bridge between English and Spanish speakers."