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By Elena Macias

The Office of Vocations announced that eight men have entered the seminary this year. Due to a recent change to the Program for Priestly Formation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for the first time, the diocese is requiring men who wish to enter the seminarian program to spend the first year as “candidates,” in the propaedeutic (the Greek word for preparatory) stage, together in an environment of fellowship and discernment before formal admission to seminary.

This year there are six such “candidates” in the Diocese and they have begun their journey at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane, WA, where a well-developed formation program specifically caters to this formational year. Read in the article about the six candidates’ journey to their vocation, who they are and their experience of this new stage.

The other two men in this year’s class, Jose Hernandez from St. Anthony, Upland and Earl Reyes, from the Philippines, have entered St. Junipero Serra House of Formation as seminarians because they have prior academic and seminarian formation experience. Be sure to look for our profile article on Hernandez and Reyes in next month’s Byte.

Matthew Glaudini:
Matthew Glaudini, from St. Paul the Apostle, Chino Hills, remembers first feeling the call to the priesthood when he was just 16 years old.
“I was in a holy hour at my home parish, and it was like if God planted a seed,” Glaudini said. “It was something I never thought of before and so I felt with that and I sat with that and I prayed about it a lot but ultimately I was still just 16, I felt like there was nothing I could do about it yet.”
However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, Glaudini abandoned this thought completely and focused on completing high school.
“Then after high school I just tried to do other things. I was in EMT School, and I was really enjoying it but ultimately, it felt like something was missing, like I wasn’t really being fulfilled. That kind of brought me back to the moment where I realized, God kind of planted the seed a while ago and I chose to pretty much ignore it at that point. So, I began thinking and praying about it again and I started seeing the fruits of that thinking so I decided to get in contact with my vocations director… and that brought me here.”
Now being in Spokane, WA, Glaudini finds himself discerning if he is being called to the priesthood, and has been enjoying the process.
“We are living the life of a seminarian to kind of taste that idea of what our life is going to look like but we’re also spending a lot of time in formation of just learning how to discern and it’s designed to help us understand if we are being called to move forward… The formation has been very fruitful and being here at Bishop White [Seminary], it’s very peaceful.”
In Glaudini’s free time, he enjoys reading and has picked up journaling since being at Bishop White Seminary. Glaudini writes about his daily life there in the seminary in the hopes to look back later and remember his experience and time there.

Michael Poulin:
Michael Poulin, from The Holy Name of Jesus, Redlands, has always had a strong relationship with God, and he believes that servitude has been one of the key reasons why he wanted to become a priest.
“Growing close to God and servitude because I want to share that love that I have with God, that I’ve had with my faith, with other people, and really bring out the fruits of the sacraments to the church and the beauty of the sacraments that we have in the Catholic faith because they are as real as real could get,” Poulin said.
At Bishop White Seminary, Poulin has been enjoying the “Cor Christi” program that the seminary has created for the propaedeutic stage.
“ ‘Cor Christi’ translates to the heart of Christ, and it is bringing the heart of Christ into us this year. I think the propaedeutic stage is necessary and it’s all needed because there’s parts of us that not everything is a sunshine road. We do get clouds of rain and Cor Christi is really here to help us, to nurture us, and to help us to grow into that heart of Christ that we are called to be.”
When Poulin is not doing his mandatory readings and assignments, he enjoys writing stories, writing outlines, and drawing pictures of religious art and spending time with the other candidates.

Oscar Montalvo:
Oscar Montalvo, from Our Lady of the Assumption, San Bernardino, recalls receiving his call to the priesthood as a young child because his family always surrounded him with the Church.
“Since I was a kid, I always felt the calling, I would always play Mass, it used to be embarrassing when my mom would tell stories to my aunts… My whole family was surrounded by a lot of priests and so I would attend Mass daily, so I started seeing what the priest was doing and it brought an interest to me,” Montalvo said.
However, when he reached high school, his thoughts of entering the priesthood changed.
“In high school, I said, ‘I don’t think I’m being called to the priesthood, that’s too much,’ ” Montalvo said. “So, I was trying to discern maybe like politics but then I realized that nowadays politics isn’t really the best so I’m here now discerning to discern the priesthood.”
Before this year, seminarians began their formation by studying philosophy at the St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace and this change surprised Montalvo at first as he wanted to jump into philosophy right away and begin his journey to becoming a priest. However, since being at Bishop White, he says he has grown to enjoy this new process.
“Since I’ve been here it’s been a real complete blessing,” Montalvo said. “Our rector is an awesome spiritual rector, and he always shows us how to have patience, humility and it’s really a nice time to take a breather but as well prepare yourself for philosophy.”
In his spare time, Montalvo enjoys going to the gym every day to relieve stress, reading liturgy books and some fiction books, of which he just completed reading “The Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Albert Salcido:
Albert Salcido, from St. Patrick, Moreno Valley, shares a similar story as some of his fellow candidates in that growing up with a strong Catholic family gave him the idea of wanting to be a priest as a child, but when he reached high school, the idea faded.
“Right after I finished college, I didn’t know where I wanted to go or really what I wanted to do with my life,” Salcido said. “That’s when I really started contemplating, praying and thinking more. I was going to a lot of retreats and that’s what kind of confirmed it for me, ‘you should just stop procrastinating and just do it.’ So then after that I just contacted my vocational director, then after that he just told me to do the application and after that everything just kind of fell into place perfectly like a series of events. And everything just worked out perfectly.”
Salcido, like his fellow candidates, also had to take some time to understand the new propaedeutic stage, however, he has to come to enjoy the process.
“I really like how the program is so far and what we’ve been doing, I think it’s really beneficial, rather than just rushing into it, you kind of have a better feeling of what it means, just how deep it is,” Salcido said.
In Salcido’s spare time, he likes playing games at the seminary like ping pong and darts with his fellow candidates. Salcido has also been teaching himself how to play the piano.

Luis Morales:
Luis Morales, from St. Christopher, Moreno Valley, was set on entering the seminary right after graduating high school and even took the next step and spoke to Vocations Director, Father Hau Vu about it. However, after this talk, Morales did not feel that he should enter the seminary at the age of 17.
“So, a couple years after, I think I was 20 years old, I went to go visit my grandmother in the Diocese of Fresno and I really had a true message from Christ,” Morales said. “One of the seminarians from that diocese talked to me and he said, ‘I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me to come over here. The Holy Spirit told me to come over here and tell you, Jesus wants you to be a priest.’’
Morales took these words to heart and moved even more after learning about that seminarian’s own vocation story. However, Morales still did not enter the seminary, yet continued to reflect on those words after receiving a Social Behavioral Science degree.
“When I got out of college, I just felt like I wasn’t comfortable with what I had just majored in, that I had just got a degree in,” Morales said. “So, I paused for a while, ‘you received this vocation, this calling for the priesthood, more than just once or twice,’ and so I decided to really give God a chance. And here I am, I’m in the seminary right now.”
While at Bishop White Seminary, Morales finds joy and value in being able to speak with other seminarians.
“I talk to some of the seminarians that were already here from last year, their amazing people to be around,” Morales said. “Hearing them has actually given me a little comfort to really sort out the process to really just allow Christ to work.”
In his spare time, Morales enjoys reading, writing, and having conversations with his fellow candidates.

Cesar Caldera:
Cesar Caldera, from St. John XXIII, Rialto, first felt the calling to his vocation when he attended his first priest ordination in 2019 at Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Cucamonga at the age of 15.
“I thought it was really really nice and beautiful, but I didn’t really understand it though,” Caldera said. “I got deeper in my faith and closer to God, taking my faith seriously.”
Then during his first semester of his senior year of high school, Caldera saw a social media posting by the Vocations Office about an Adoration for priestly vocations.
“I decided to go, I was actually supposed to go to my homecoming dance that night, but instead of going to that for some reason I just felt like going to that and I’ve never visited the seminary either or Serra House so I wanted to go check that out,” Caldera said. “It turned out that I was the only one who went.”
Caldera recalls speaking with Fr. Vu that night for about an hour and after their conversation, Fr. Vu gave Caldera the seminary application. However, Caldera did not feel ready to fill it out.
“In 2022, after a lot of ministry done in the diocese, altar serving with priests, that desire, just that desire, that type of life of a priest, serving the people, just lit a spark in me,” Caldera said. “I decided to fill it out and it was a long process because I procrastinated a lot on filling it out, but I got it done and I submitted it and now I’m here.”
Caldera, like some of his fellow candidates, wanted to spend his first year of formation at Serra House, but now at Bishop White Seminary, although weary of studying for his classes, he finds solace in talking to the seminarians.
“I have to remind myself daily to trust in God and that he’ll get me through it if he wants me to,” Caldera said. “The place is beautiful here and the atmosphere here is really beautiful and the higher up seminarians are all cool, I really love hearing their stories and talking to them. Truly solid priests helping us discern if this is what God wants for us. So now that I’m here, I’m excited, worried for studies, but still excited to be here.”
In Caldera’s spare time, he enjoys spending time and having conversations with his diocesan brothers and the other seminarians.