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FATHER LUIS M ALVA-FLORES

On April 16, 1973 in Mexico, under the sign of Pablo Nerudaís Death, Vietnam War and oil crisis, I came into this world, being the youngest of three brothers. I was born to love God, but as the world I preferred to live in fear and hopeless self-contradictory hungers. My vocational history is a long walk back to trust in God.

My priestly vocation was born in an expected circumstance. The first time that God touched my life was when I just was born. Truthfully, I do not remember that, but my grandmother told me the story. My mother died and God received her and gave her new and eternal life. So, I was raised by my grandmother, and one day I asked her, "Where is my mother?" My grandmother responded, "In heaven." Then I asked her, "What do I need to do to go to heaven?" She answered, "Be good!" And thus I continued growing, making an effort to be a good boy so one day I could be with my mother in heaven.

My dad got married again, and my new mother always asked me, "Would you like to be a Father?" "Sure," I answered, "but to my children." I viewed priests as something very great and unattainable; I never asked myself if I could be one of them. Then in high school I fell in love. My girlfriend was very active in the church. She was inviting me little by little. First I went for confession, then we prayed the Rosary and we did penance... and just like that, my interest in the things of God returned to my life.

At that time, the Mass was not enough for me. I wanted to know more about God. I felt like I began to live; my life began to change. I was spending more time in church, but I wanted something more. I wanted to take part in a retreat, but I thought that all retreats were the same. So, one day when I was leaving Mass, I saw a poster announcing a retreat for men. I was excited and I signed up for it. I immediately told the news to my girlfriend. She asked me, "Do you want to be a Father?" I responded to her, "Sure, but of your children" and I hugged her. She informed me that the retreat was exclusively to see if a young man had a vocation to become a priest. I said to her, "That did not interest me. The only thing that I wanted was to attend a retreat."

The day of the retreat arrived and none of my relatives could believe that I was going to attend a retreat for one week, only my "new mother". In general, the retreat was very pretty; the priests spoke to us of the love of God and the necessity to announce it, of suffering in the world and the possibility of beginning another life. Something that was engraved in my mind was what a priest said to us, "It is not a coincidence that each one of you has attended this retreat. You have been called by God". Then he read the book of the prophet Jeremiah:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. "Ah, Lord GOD!" I said, "I know not how to speak; I am too young." But the LORD answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth!" (Jer 1: 5-9)

I was so fascinated. I could not believe that God was calling me. Now he needed my answer.

That week on Wednesday they sent our group out to ask different groups (priests, doctors, policemen, etc.) what they thought of God. We were also sent to ask the "children of the street." For me it was a very difficult experience. I did not know that those children existed, and when we asked them what they thought of God, they answered to us, "God is who sees us every day and, also, who saves us from bad people." I remember that day spending all my money on them buying food. During that day we washed cars and played. When the day ended they gave us money to go back to the seminary.

When I was going to bed, I felt an immense desire to be in the presence of God, and then I went to the chapel. There was an immense joy in my heart, but it was accompanied by fear. I knew that God was calling me, and he waited patiently for my answer. We were there alone, face to face. I said to Him: "I know you are waiting for me and I know, also what you are asking me, but I donít know how to give you my answer." Then the words of Mary came to my mind. "May it be done to me according to your word" And when I pronounced those words I felt that my heart was going to explode, I was afraid and I began to cry. I prostrated myself and I felt Godís presence very strongly. My heart had returned to have peace. This happened the night of August 5th of 1992.

A priestís calling should not be taken lightly or disregarded. That is why I invite you to pray for vocations, with the prayer that Pope John Paul II taught us:

Holy Father, look upon this humanity of ours that is taking its first steps along the path of the Third Millennium. Its life is still deeply marked by hatred, violence and oppression, but the thirst for justice, truth and grace still finds a space in the hearts of many people, who are waiting for someone to bring salvation, enacted by you through Your Son Jesus. There is the need for courageous heralds of the Gospel, for generous servants of suffering humanity. Send holy priests to Your Church, we pray, to sanctify your people with the tools of your grace. Send numerous consecrated men and women, to show your holiness in the midst of the world. Send holy laborers into your vineyard, to labor with the fervor of charity and, moved by Your Holy Spirit, bring the salvation of Christ to the farthest ends of the earth.                                                                                             Amen.

Now Iím happily serving the Lord at St. Patrickís in Madras. I was consecrated priest in Baker, OR on June 17, 2006 - it means 14 year after my first encounter with God!
 


 

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