Carlos Parra Rubio
Carlos Parra Rubio, 25, 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 had been studying philosophy at San Juan de los Lagos Seminary. Now, in early 2013, he is in the midst of a pastoral year in direct service to his parish community. He will then return to the seminary and complete his degree in philosophy, Afterwards, he hopes to be able to return to the United States for his theology studies and novitiate, leading up to ordination as a Glenmary priest.
The Mexican seminary formator told Father Steve he was very grateful to have Carlos there because he brings such leadership and maturity to the group. He also 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 worked at a parish in Mexico during the summer of 2010 because he couldn't obtain a visa to travel to the United States.
"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," he says. "I already have many of the skills and the experience I'll probably need when I'm a pastor, like being the bridge between English and Spanish speakers."