By Andres Rivera
GRAND TERRACE—Raymond Palacios was overwhelmed by his first experience attending Mass after years of distancing himself from God and the Church.
“The experience of attending Church after a couple of years of not going, I just started crying,” Palacios said.
Now a seminarian at Blessed Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace, Palacios attributes the sense of community and fellowship he found at his parish and in Serra House in allowing him to answer the call to join the seminary.
“I wasn’t religious at all growing up. There was a point in high school when I felt that I was against God,” Palacios said. “But that soon changed.”
After attending Mass by the invitation of his family during Christmas a few years ago, he began attending Mass more regularly and felt compelled to attend a retreat the parish sponsored. The retreat experience at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Rialto changed his outlook on life and inspired him to embrace his faith more.
Palacios says he was impacted by the sense of community and the faith of the people attending and coordinating the retreat.
Over the past year, Palacios began to discern his vocation. A friend introduced him to a religious brother and he began speaking with associate director of vocations, Father Javier Gonzalez. Aside from attending discernment nights and retreats, Palacios also interacted with the seminarians currently undergoing formation at Serra House and watched videos on vocations to help him in his discernment.
His family and friends were happy to hear of his acceptance to Serra House. Though some were shocked to hear of his decision, most expressed that they saw it coming.
“What was interesting was someone at work who is actually not religious kept asking all these questions,” Palacios said. “I thought it was so amazing that someone could be so interested in what I was doing.”
Entering Serra House has been an overwhelming experience for Palacios, he says. He enjoys the sense of community and spending time with his fellow seminarians, and is adjusting well to his change in lifestyle.
“I spend my time in constant prayer,” Palacios said. “I love to pray, it keeps my relationship strong with God.”
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