Mauricio, a 25-year-old seminarian from Brazil, tells us his testimony. "My name is Mauricio Silva de Andrade, I was born on March 30, 1997. I am the only son of Luiz Claudio Ferreira de Andrade and Flavia Souza da Silva, since my mother lost a baby still in gestation.
We moved in 2001 to Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, because my father is in the military. I grew up and lived in that city until I moved to Rome.
"At home I always had good examples. My parents were hard-working and much loved by all, great role models for my life. However, although most of my family is Christian - I was baptized at the age of one in the Catholic Church, During my childhood we didn't use to go to church, only occasionally, at the invitation of friends of my parents, who were also Protestants. We rarely prayed together at home.
"When I was about 9 years old I began to teach catechism classes, but I confess that, as the talks were on Saturday afternoon, I preferred to be with friends playing soccer. I missed many days and hardly did the activities proposed to do at home. I had no interest in attending Mass either, it all seemed very boring to me. Therefore, I finally dropped out of catechesis and did not receive my First Communion.
At that time I had very critical ideas about the Church, because in my mind faith was something mythological and unconnected to real life, mere superstition, and I looked down on religious people with a certain contempt. How far I was from being a seminarian from Brazil".
"Gradually, as I matured, I was still very young and with a very limited view of the world, I set out to have a less pejorative concept of religion. What definitely brought about a change in my life was the death of my father in a car accident. I was only 12 years old. He was a good, loving man, everybody loved him... So I wondered where he had gone after he passed away, and if everything he had done in his life would have made sense.
And that's when I began to see the world from another perspective and religion stopped being something negative. I set out to read books on Catholic doctrine to find the answers to my questions".
In this image Mauricio, a seminarian from Brazil, is shown with the prayer group of his university classmates, where his path to God took a providential turn.
"One day, on my way home and passing a chapel, I hitchhiked and met a permanent deacon who lived in my neighborhood. Surprisingly, he asked me if I had received catechesis and I answered that I had, when I was a child, but I dropped out because I was not interested.
After my response, he kindly invited me to participate in religion classes with young people my age who were preparing for Confirmation. I accepted the invitation. This time I had a very different attitude, I committed myself and, finally, I received the Eucharist and Confirmation".
"That training awakened in me a great admiration for Catholic doctrine, so much so that after receiving the sacraments, I never stopped attending Sunday Mass. In addition, I did not give up my prayer groups with young people, I prayed the rosary and tried to attend retreats. Everything related to the Church generated a great interest in me. I made new friends who helped me a lot and still help me grow in faith."
"When I finished high school (I was in a military center) I went to college, still not being clear about what I really wanted.because my only personal project was to play basketball: I dreamed of making it to the NBA.
I enrolled in law school at Don Bosco Catholic University. I knew that I would have the chance to play basketball there because I sometimes trained with the university team. As a kid I was part of the Don Bosco College team, both Salesian institutions. It didn't even cross my mind to be a seminarian. As the years went by, this dream came up against reality: I realized that it was unfeasible, as was becoming a professional athlete".
"It was in college where my walk with God took another, now more radical, turn. Despite the challenges of the university environment, which is often influenced by skepticism and religious indifferentism, it is still a very challenging environment.In the general Brazilian scenario of great promiscuity, the Catholic University allowed me to grow a lot in faith.
We students were given the opportunity to participate in Holy Mass twice a week, and we could also attend adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the University chapels, where a youth prayer group met once a week. Hunger for the Eucharist grew in me, as well as the desire to go to confession more often".
"However, as I explained before, I was a young man who did not have a defined life project. I left law school and changed course. I started a new cycle in administration at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul. There I also joined a weekly prayer group with students. There I made excellent friendships, which brought me closer to God. We created a Catholic study group in the university library, which bore good fruits.
My path was becoming clearer. Mauricio, from dreaming of the NBA, to fulfilling God's will as a seminarian from Brazil".
"When I was 12 years old, my father died and I began to wonder where I should be. Thanks to a providential encounter, I took up catechesis again and, as a teenager, I received the Eucharist and Confirmation. Now I am a seminarian.
"On June 16, 2019, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I attended a Latin Mass for the first time with my group of college friends. My intention was to receive the imposition of the scapular and to learn a little more about this liturgy, which was something new to me and which aroused my curiosity.
At the end of the Mass I met a diocesan seminarian, now a priestwho invited me to visit the seminary. I finally accepted, a little out of curiosity, but also because of that restlessness I had inside me about the things of God".
"Subsequently, I signed up for vocational meetings and to familiarize myself with the seminary environment. In my parish I had contact with Salesian seminarians, some of whom are my friends to this day, even though some have left the seminary.
One factor that caught my attention was the testimony of the seminary's priest formators, his love for the priesthood, his piety and zeal in the celebration of the Eucharist. My mind was opened and I understood the priesthood in a new way, so much so that I began to seriously question whether God was calling me on this path, whether my vocation was the priesthood, although I was very hesitant and fearful of such a great and demanding mission".
"After many vocational meetings, frequent visits to the seminary, a year of spiritual direction and quite a few questions - a process that took about a year and a half - I made the decision to enter the seminary. I was not certain that I wanted to become a priest, but I had a deep desire to do God's will in my life, trusting to be where the Lord wanted me to be, which gave me a lot of serenity.
My decision was meditated: I left the school of administration in the second year and the paid internship I had. And this a few months after having been approved in five public competitions for internships and being already an intern at the Court of Justice of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul with another year and a half of contract. So, I left everything to fulfill God's will".
"I entered the propaedeutic seminary of the Archdiocese of Campo Grande in 2018, and, with the permission of my bishop, I also began my studies in Philosophy that same year. It was a very intense and challenging time, I was studying Philosophy and continuing with seminary activities and studies. At the end of 2020, having finished my philosophy course, my bishop proposed me to continue my studies and formation process in the Eternal City, which was a great surprise, but also a great honor and joy to be offered this opportunity.
I spoke with my mother, my spiritual director and formators and said yes to the bishop. In October 2021 and with some difficulties due to the pandemic, I finally had the grace of residing at Sedes Sapientiae International Ecclesiastical College and the privilege of beginning my theological studies at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, where I am now in my second year of the Bachelor of Theology.
"As you have seen, my life, like all lives, is made up of providential encounters. And providential is the help of my benefactors of the CARF Foundation, not only in a financial sense - because I am here thanks to you - but also because of your prayer and spiritual closeness, something fundamental for any seminarian and priest in the world.Muito ObrigadoMauricio, a seminarian from Brazil.
BA in History and Political Science, specializing in the Middle East.
Responsible for the student body at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.