Seminarian Juan Salas:
Celebrating God, His people, and chocolate
Seminarian Juan Salas was born in Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes, Mexico to Alfredo Salas Candelas -- retired and serving a part job as art professor in a cultural institute -- and Bertha Alanis Tavira, a homemaker. He has one sibling, a sister, Anabertha Salas.
When did you first feel the call to enter the priesthood?
I first felt the call to enter the priesthood when I was a child; I was about eight or nine years old. I think that being an altar boy awakened that feeling.
Who influenced you along the way?
The person who influenced me the most was the pastor I had in my childhood. I used to see him as a great person, somebody who was active the whole day; celebrating Mass, talking with people on the streets, exercising, attending parishioners at his office, visiting houses, but most of all, I saw him happy. I just wanted to be like him. Nevertheless, my family raised me as a Catholic and always supported me choosing this path. I can say they influenced me, too.
How did your family react to your decision to enter the priesthood? My family has always supported my decision to enter the seminary. However, in the beginning they did not think I was serious about it. So then, that when I told them I wanted to enter the seminary it was a little hard for my father because, as I am the only son of the family, there would not be any decent with my last name.
What did you imagine seminary would be like? Is it different than you imagined?
Before I went to the seminary, I did not know very much about the seminary. I wanted to know what the seminary was like, how the seminarians lived, and other things. I thought the seminary was a place where the seminarians were praying the whole day and they were not allowed to do something fun. There was this equation in my mind: Seminary equals dark, boring place. Certainly it was not. I discovered that seminary is a place where those who have the curiosity about the priesthood could develop themselves intellectually, spiritually, humanly, and apostolically. It is a place full of values that can help seminarians through their life. There is time for everything; time to worship God, to study, to play, to work.
As you go through seminary, have you recognized any misconceptions about seminary students, or those seeking the priesthood, that you would like to dispel?
Just after I entered the seminary I met one of my old friends on the street. I noticed he was dubious whether to shake hands or just to say hello. I extended my hand and gave him a good shaking hand. We talked for a while and finally he told me: “So, now you are in the seminary. Will be still friends?” Of course I say yes. Now, some people think that seminarians are odd people. Seminarians are just as the rest of the young men are. We have family and come from some town. Sometimes we are afraid of something and other times we are happy. Some of us do sports and arts, and like to go around with our friends sometimes. What distinguishes us from the rest of the young men is that we want to be Priest: live the celibacy, to administer the sacraments, and to configure ourselves as Christ, the Highest Priest. And by the way, we do like chocolate a lot, at least I do.
Can you name something that you look forward to in your priesthood?
First of all, I look forward to be a holy priest, just as many of our priests in the Dodge City diocese are. I hope God calls me to the priesthood. I look forward to help people in their relationship between others and God: being a bridge.
Can you describe one of your favorite things about attending seminary?
One of my favorite things in the seminary is the opportunity to meet people from all over. We get to know people from other countries (as I am). And one of the greatest things is that we all are looking for the same goal. It is just amazing the fraternity we live in here. I have made very good friends and my relationship with Jesus has grown, too.
What would you say to anyone considering the priesthood?
The seed of the vocation is born deeply in our hearts. One of the first signs of this vocation is to feel an interest in the priesthood. Once this happens, you should give yourself the opportunity to discover what the priesthood is about. Do not throw away this option without trying, without considering the priesthood as an option for your life. Take off your fear. God is calling you because God needs men of value like you.