I just think this story -- and the photo -- are really sweet...Can you imagine a future with multigenerational priestly families? -- RG
By Juan Carlos Vaca (translation by Rebel Girl)
September 13, 2008
CORDOBA.- At age 75, Raúl Arturo Vera was ordained a priest in the city Río Cuarto. But it's not the fact that he is a septuagenarian that's remarkable but rather the fact that he is the father of two sons -- one of whom is currently a priest -- and the grandfather of two.
He has just been sworn to celibacy by the bishop of his diocese, Msgr. Eduardo Martín. "Even though I was married for over 40 years, I made my promise with absolute conviction. Perhaps some would say that if I thought of anything else I would be an old goat. But no, I gave my vow in full conviction of what this precept means for a priest", he told La Nacion.
Before his ordination, Vera was a deacon for many years and in recent months he has been living in a parish that is tended by another priest, Ariel D Andrea.
After today, he has the faculty to hear the confessions of the faithful. He will do this with a life experience that other priests haven't had -- that of having been married and being a father and a grandfather.
"Ah! This is what people tell you; it's not what I'm putting forward or what I think. I know that many faithful have commented that maybe I will be better able to understand the problems they might be having with their children or their marriage. What I want is to be able to work for the people, to be useful to others, to serve my brothers and sisters", he indicated.
Raúl was widowed a year ago when Graciela Gómez, whom he had married in 1965, died. They met at the end of the 60s when they were both catechists in north Córdoba.
He says that the same night his wife died, August 7th of last year, he "stayed a while drinking tea with my sons in the kitchen. We talked a lot about the past, the present and the future. I told them that I was at the last stage of my life and I was thinking that I could provide greater service to the Church and the people by becoming a priest. They supported me in this idea."
He raised this concern with the bishop who also agreed to Raúl's wish. In part, his way was smoothed by having studied to be a deacon in 1990. Now he had to complement those courses at the Rio Cuarto Seminary with classes in moral theology and canon law. Last July he completed them. "I got an 8" he said.
Raúl was born in Dean Funes, a city in northern Cordoba. His father was a bricklayer. He died when Raúl was 14 years old, at the end of the 40s. They were a large family. "We were in a very difficult situation, as they say, on the streets. But my mother was a woman of much faith; she did not sit down and cry over her suffering but gathered herself up and moved forward," he reminisces.
In 1949, Raúl managed to get hired as an employee of the Post Office. His first salary was 200 pesos, with which he essentially became the head of the family. At the same time he cultivated his religious life, linked to Catholic Action.
He taught catechism -- the work through which he met Graciela whom he married after a 5-year courtship. They have two sons, Raúl, who is now a priest, and Daniel, who got married and gave him two grandchildren. Last night, Raúl walked his father up to his priestly consecration.