Meet Brother Santiago de la Torre
I am the second of two children born to two very loving parents. Growing up in Puebla, Mexico, I attended a Legionary school from kindergarten through sixth grade, where my love for our Lord first began to take root.
In November 2013, we moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Suddenly, I went from an all-boys catholic school to a public school in the US. Having lost the environment of my elementary school where my desire for the priesthood was fostered and encouraged, I no longer even thought about becoming a priest. Although, having discovered the existence of girls certainly attributed to my change of focus.
As I grew into a teenager in our very secularized culture, I began to question and doubt many aspects of my faith. Eventually, I stopped receiving the sacraments. I have no doubt that I would have stopped believing altogether had it not been for my earlier formation and the persistence of my parents, who would force me to attend Mass with them.
Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, once again the Lord began to knock, ever so gently, at the door to my heart. I had hoped to spend my summer as a camp counselor for an English language academy in Ireland, but instead was invited by Fr. Raymundo Macias LC, to go on a pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Just before leaving on pilgrimage, I traveled to Ireland where I felt a reawakening of my love for the Lord, and the desire for the priestly vocation returned. As I began my pilgrimage, I found I had a lot of time to think and reflect. I shared with my spiritual director my desire to attend the Apostolic School when I returned home. He, very wisely, realized that I was not ready for that and said, “if you are still interested after high school, we can revisit that idea.”
After many miles of walking the Camino, I returned home. I finished my junior year of high school and just before my senior year, my family moved to Denver Colorado. Halfway through my senior year, COVID-19 shut down the entire state of Colorado, my dream school NYU turned me down, and I had to cancel a date with a girl that I had worked so hard to get the courage to ask out. All this was devastating, but I had to accept this crazy new reality. All of this led me to a deeper search into what it was that I truly wanted out of life. Once again, the Lord knocked.
I spoke with Fr. Raymundo again who put me in contact with Fr. John Curran, one of the vocation directors for the Legionaries of Christ in the US. Together, we decided that I would attend the Summer Candidacy program and then, if I wanted to, I could enter the novitiate.
I came to Cheshire for the first time, and I fell in love.
My calling to the priesthood had never felt more real, but life circumstances led me to a decision not to join. Instead, I tried to make a deal with God, “I will do what I want, but it will be for your glory.”
After leaving the candidacy program, I entered Suffolk University, one of my safety schools in downtown Boston. The plan was to transfer to Boston University the following year. As a college freshman, I fell into some of my old habits and completely stopped practicing my faith. The only things that remained were my necklace and a cross-stitch image of Mary that my mom had made.
I returned to Boston to begin my second semester. Everything was going better in my life. I had met a girl, my grades were good, and I had started my transfer applications to both Boston University and NYU. Everything seemed to be going great. Until one day Fr. John Curran called to invite me back to the seminary in Cheshire. I was supposed to come for a two-day visit and return the following Friday, the day before Valentine’s Day.
On the day I was supposed to leave for Cheshire, I became aware that our relationship was causing my girlfriend pain, so we decided to take a break and figure things out after I returned. All this was just 20 minutes before Fr. John picked me up.
During my two-day visit, Father John invited me to stay longer – to discern deeper. I spent that entire day being angry with God for taking my girlfriend away. Ultimately, I decided that if I genuinely loved her and wanted to give myself totally to her, I needed to truly understand what God wanted of me.
I returned to Boston where I broke up with my girlfriend. I trusted that God would return her to me if I gave him the first shot. Two weeks into my discernment, I realized that this was no longer about her, but it was about God and his plan for my true happiness and fulfillment.
It has been two and a half years since then, and although the road has not always been easy, I have never regretted saying “yes” to Christ. The same person who said yes to me.