Paul, a life under the protection of the saint of Assisi - CARF Foundation
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14 Oct, 22

Priests' testimonies


Paul, a life under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi

Pablo Francisco Gutiérrez is a young 25-year-old religious of the Miles Christi Congregation. He has just arrived in Rome to study the Bachelor of Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, thanks to the support of the CARF Foundation, which not only contributes to the formation of diocesan priests and seminarians around the world, but is also committed to religious congregations, especially those that are more recently established. The mission of the CARF Foundation is that all its scholarship recipients have an adequate academic preparation to meet the challenges of the new evangelization.

Paul Francis has a great devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and lives under his protection and shelter. He tells us about his vocation.

"The story of my vocation has a lot to do with my name. A life that is a miracle and a life under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi. I was born in Villa Elisa, a town in the La Plata district, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although it has grown a lot now, when I was a child there were very few houses, it was much smaller. My parents and my whole family is a family of faith. I am the third of six siblings. My mother, Cristina, from whom we all get our faith, my father, Luis, three brothers and three sisters, all very dedicated to the apostolate.

Villa Elisa had a strong Franciscan presence, In fact, the present parish is a former Franciscan convent, which has the St. Francis of Assisi school in front of it, all of which is now run by our congregation".

My life was a miracle

"All the people of Villa Elisa were very devoted to the saint of Assisi. When my mother was pregnant with me, she had a very dangerous pancreatitis and the doctors assured her that she would lose the baby she was expecting. Lhe community prayed especially to St. Francis, and the operation was performed on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thank God, the operation went beyond all expectations and the child, who was me, was completely healthy.

The doctor himself could not explain this event and told my mother that it was a miracle. We also counted on the prayers of my mother's cousin, a priest in Rosario, who from the time the operation began until the day of my birth, celebrated Holy Mass every day praying for me.

I always had the conviction that the Mother of God had preserved me from that moment for her Son and, instead of dying, to live to serve God. Therefore, I am convinced that this miracle was the beginning of my vocation".

A very early vocation

"I must say that the whole family owes it to my mother to have received the faith. She herself converted my father, when we were married, and she knew how to guide all her children well. I started at the age of three at St. Francis School, and from then on I remember that I always wanted to be a priest. priest. Even, which I laugh about now, I remember playing at celebrating Mass in my room... I used a table as an altar, and an old bedside table as a tabernacle.

Thank God, there have always been vocations in my family. At this moment, an uncle of mine, my mother's brother, a priest, was taking a course in this same university. Also a cousin of my mother's, of whom I spoke before, is a priest in Rosario, Argentina.

Although in adolescence this desire to become a priest faded somewhat, now I see that the Lord has always been calling me in the backgroundfrom those first desires of my childhood.

Pablo Francisco Gutierrez with another Miles Christi brother.

Pablo Francisco Gutiérrez is pictured here with another brother from the Miles Christi congregation. He relates that the story of his vocation has a lot to do with his name. "My life began because of a miracle and has always been under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi."

Towards religious life: the Miles Christi Congregation

"Knowing Miles Christi It was very easy. My house is only a block away from the parish, and since I was a child I have always attended the group called the Southern Cross Hawks, which belongs to Miles Christi. My mother always told us "you have to go to a Catholic group... whichever one you want. But you don't stay here, you have to be formed. Now my brothers and I are very grateful to him for this demand.

I spent my entire childhood and youth at Halcones. I started when I was eight years old, and finished at 17, along with school. There, the leaders and priests strove to instill in us healthy Christian joy, with a solid life of piety and strong bonds of good friendships. Thanks to this group, I came closer to the congregation, I began to lead a more serious life of piety, with spiritual direction and spiritual exercises that we did annually. And it was there that I received the call of God".

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

"In 2013, when I was 15 years old, I made some spiritual exercises, a spiritual retreat of silence, inspired by the method of St. Ignatius. There I saw clearly that God was already calling me as a child, but now, with much greater intensity.

I remember all the questions I asked then... especially why me, what will happen to the people with whom I do apostolate, my friends, etc.? And God Himself took care of answering for me. Deep down I was afraid of what would happen, and I saw that an act of faith and trust in God was necessary. It was an act of faith and trust in God. jumping into the void, giving God a blank check, full of confidence that if I gave myself totally, He would not let Himself be outdone in generosity, and He would take care of everything I was worried about. And, of course, common sense took care of the rest: if I really want my house, my family, friends, etc. so much, it is safer for Him to take care of it".

Volunteering and prayer

"I still had a year left before I could actually enter religious life, so I decided to use that whole year to dedicate myself to the apostolate. I remember that I began to work more in the apostolate at Miles Christi, especially with my friends in the Falcon group.

In addition, with a friend belonging to Halcones, we formed a group with our classmates, about ten people, with whom we went every Thursday to the children's hospital in La Plata, to the Oncology section, to do apostolate with the children with cancer. Then, every Friday, we had a half hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and then we shared a snack with each other.

"I always had the conviction that the Mother of God had preserved me from that moment for her Son, and, instead of dying, to live to serve God."

Religious formation

"When I finished High School, I was able to enter religious life in Miles Christi, on February 22, 2015. There I did Humanities and Philosophy, in the formation house of Luján, a few kilometers from the shrine of the Virgin of Luján.

Then I made my novitiate there, and culminated with the vows and the taking of the habit, on February 11, 2021, Our Lady of Lourdes, along with the brothers Agustín and Mariano de Miles Christi, who are studying with me at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, they too thanks to the support of the CARF Foundation. I had the grace to be part of the congregation and to be accompanied by excellent priests who have supported me all this time, among them Father Gustavo and Father Carlos".

An unforgettable year

"After my vows, I was sent to do my apostolic practices in the province of San Luis, also in Argentina. That year and a half will be unforgettable for me. The Lord filled me with graces, but above all he matured my vocation very much. There I was able to practice the apostolate to which I would dedicate my life for the Lord, and for which I am now studying theology.

San Luis is a poor province, but the people are very close, with a strikingly strong yet simple faith. I was able to work a lot with the Halcones group, which had been founded there two years earlier, in which many young people and children participate.

I also dedicated myself to the young university students, giving talks, organizing camps, etc. A very important point was the organization of missions in the province itself: we would go with the young people to different places, sometimes towns, sometimes chapels in the sierras, where we would walk for a long time on dirt roads in the middle of the sierras to reach some unknown house, where people lived, to pray with them and try to bring them closer to God".

In addition, with young people and adolescents from the groups, we were able to form a polyphonic singing choir and even organized two concerts. Everything always seeking to bring souls to God. But one of the things for which I am most grateful to God is that, after a year there, my former formator, and also a true brother to me, was assigned to my own community, so we shared a few months of hard apostolic work there.

Pablo Francisco Gutiérrez with the young people.

Pablo Francisco Gutiérrez with young people and other Miles Christi brothers.

In Rome!

"The departure to go to Rome to continue my formation was painful, but the Lord wants to complete his work, and I still had to study theology to be ordained. It hurt us all, but, as my formator said in one of the farewells, "if he could do so much good as a brother... much more he will do it as a priest". I remember that I had up to thirteen farewells.

Finally, for all this I thank God, and for giving me this great grace of being able to study theology in the center of our faith, Rome. And I desire with all my heart to be able to respond to this great grace that the Lord gives me with generosity, giving myself fully to the study of the science of at the University of Santa Croce.

For this reason I would also like to thank especially all those who make it possible for me to complete my priestly formation, especially all the brothers and sisters of the CARF Foundation-Roman Academic Center Foundation, and assure you of their presence in my prayers, for providing this very concrete help for our beloved Church in the formation of new priests. And thanks also to the protection of St. Francis of Assisi".

Gerardo Ferrara
BA in History and Political Science, specializing in the Middle East.
Head of the student body of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

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