Friday, April 16, 2021
Our Lady of the Ridge School was a great steppingstone for Edgar Garcia’s faith and spiritual growth. When he graduated from eighth grade, he was hoping to find a program that would help him grow in his knowledge of Catholicism and satisfy his curiosity about the priesthood. Luckily, Saint Joseph College Seminary (a college of Loyola University Chicago) offered the Quigley Scholars Program.
Since the closing of Saint Joseph College Seminary, the Quigley Scholars Program has evolved with a new name and new structure to include the discerners’ parents and siblings. The Quigley Discerners Program now meets 4 to 6 times during the school year, holds Masses at several parishes, each with time afterwards for prayer, breakfast, and an activity. There is a strong focus on prayer and on strengthening one’s relationship with Jesus. High school discerners build friendships with priests and seminarians as they pray together. They participate in activities such as laser tag, escape rooms, and assisting in a soup kitchen. Due to COVID-19, this year’s program was limited to Mass and prayers. Garcia confirmed, “Yes, Quigley Discerners Program is completely different now, but I enjoy it. I’m intrigued by the idea of visiting different churches in the Chicagoland area as much as possible. It’s a very good experience.”
Currently Garcia, a high school senior at Brother Rice High School, is discerning which college to attend, allowing him to fulfill the dream of his Mexican-immigrant parents. He feels called to make them proud as a first-generation Mexican American.
He was also heavily involved in his parish, Our Lady of the Ridge, where he was in the choir and led retreats. As he prepares to graduate from high school on June 5, 2021, he will continue to search for more opportunities to grow in his faith and his relationship with Jesus. “I wanted to know what it took to be a priest, how they help communities, and what draws them to give their lives for the people and for God.
These questions were answered through the priests and seminarians’ vocation stories. The Quigley Discerners Program was led by Fr. Tim Monahan, who was very good in making me see what it means to be a good person. I really admire him. And the best advice I have for high school discerners is that you’ll never really know what the life of a priest entails until you talk to one or see them in action. They give their lives not just for the Church but for all people”.
The desire to learn and grow continues in Garcia and the Vocation Office prays for him and all the high school senior discerners that they might have courage and wisdom as they transition from high school and develop a more confident understanding of their identity in Christ.
Garcia feels destined to fulfill his vocation as a college student and will remain open to whatever path the Lord is leading him toward.
If you are or know any boy from 8th to 12th grade who would like to learn more about the priesthood, consider the Quigley Discerners Program. The last meeting for this school year is April 24 at St. Alphonsus in Chicago from 9 to 10 a.m., with Mass, prayers and an opportunity to speak with the vocation director afterward. Or you can reach out to Fr. Monahan directly at [email protected].
Author: Erica Zapien