J. Carlos Miguel Lopez
After completing his 2015-16 year of theology studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Wisconsin in May, priesthood candidate Jose Carlos Miguel Lopez was accepted into the new Glenmary novitiate class along with Samuel Mungai, Aloysius Ssendawula and Kenneth Wandera. They comprise the largest novice group in recent Glenmary history.
The novitiate is a one-year program beginning July 1, 2016, potentially leading up to the four students’ profession of their First Glenmary Oaths—at which time they would become members of Glenmary.
In March 2016, Carlos was also installed in the Ministry of Lector at his seminary. And during June 2016, he has been on another mission placement at the Lafayette, Tenn., mission to learn more about life, people, and ministry in Glenmary mission areas.
“My wishes for the future,” says Carlos,” are to be ordained as a Glenmary priest, serve in the missions, and someday start a new mission for Glenmary.”
Carlos, 30, was born in Chiapas, Mexico, and grew up in a large, devoted Catholic family, surrounded by people of many other denominations. On Sundays his whole family would travel to another town to attend Mass.
After he was confirmed at age 14, his pastor asked him to begin teaching catechism to younger children. He eventually became interested in the priesthood, he says, and was planning to join the diocesan seminary.
Then in 2004, he learned about Glenmary when Father Vic Subb visited his school and talked about his work in U.S. home missions. "Hearing about his experiences was very interesting to me," says Carlos. "We kept in touch, and after I finished high school I decided in 2007 that I wanted to join Glenmary."
At that point, he began attending seminary in Mexico as an aspirant in Glenmary's program there. He traveled to the United States for the first time during the summer of 2009. He visited Glenmary Headquarters in Cincinnati and then spent several weeks at Glenmary's mission in Pontotoc, Miss., living with Father Gerry "Pete" Peterson. While there, Carlos also spent time working with Habitat for Humanity, helping one of the lay leaders of the Catholic mission build his home.
"My time in Mississippi was wonderful," Carlos said. "I learned a lot from Father Pete, who is a very special man. The simplicity of his lifestyle is amazing. My only regret was that I did not speak enough English to communicate with everyone." Carlos also spent a week at Glenmary's mission in Grayson, Ky., with Father Larry Goulding. "My visits to the missions really helped in my spiritual growth," he says.
"Depending on where you are, life in the missions requires different approaches. I am still learning about the culture of the United States." He also came back to the United States in March 2010 and spent Lent and Holy Week in a mission.
While he was attending the seminary in Mexico, he also taught catechism to children and adults and visited homebound people. And in his fourth year, he was in charge of 25 catechists and almost 600 children. "I still have a very good relationship with my spiritual director from that time, Father Juan Carlos. He really pushed me to keep pursuing my dream of becoming a priest."
After finishing his philosophy studies and graduating from Immaculada Concepcion seminary in 2011, he came to the United States to study English—the first year at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, and the second at the University of Evansville (Ind.).
"In Iowa I was facing things that were new for me such as the language, culture, food and people, but my spiritual director gave me good advice on to handle these situations," he says. Meanwhile, he also gained additional experience in ministry, visiting residents at a nursing facility in Epworth—"a wonderful experience"—and inmates at a prison in Indiana.
In the fall of 2014, Carlos was one of four men entering the Glenmary formation program. He was returning to Glenmary after spending a year at home to discern. He lived at the Glenmary House of Studies in St. Meinrad and took English classes at the University of Evansville.
"I'm very happy Glenmary accepted me back into the formation program," he said. "I would like to become a Glenmary priest because I like rural areas and simple people and want to serve all those in need. I also like Glenmary because they share not only their time but their lives with parishioners. "The other students and I get along well with each other. It makes life enjoyable," he said of the house community. "My goal now is to learn English very well and then begin my theology studies at seminary next year.
In the summer of 2015, Carlos was on a mission placement with Father Vic Subb at the Holy Family mission in Lafayette, Tenn.
Then, having strengthened his English skills during the 2014-15 academic year, he began theology studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in the fall of 2015.