by Father Thiago,sx.
(We present the testimony offered by Father Thiago during the prayer vigil for vocations held at the Saint Francis Xavier Parish Church, last April 28, 2012. Fr Thiago has been already assigned to Thailand for his missionary work.)
“For you are at my side!” (Ps 23)
It´s so beautiful to look at our lives with this certainty: For you are at my side. It´s wonderful to walk on the holy land of our story, and to contemplate in it the love of the Lord who guides our steps with his presence. I would like to share with you some moments in my life which show how the Lord called me to serve him and his people.
I was born on October 8, in 1984, in Londrina, a city in the Southern part of Brazil. I am the fourth son among six children. My family for me is a concrete sign of the gift of the love of God, because in my family I could and I can touch and experience this love. Since I was a child I have received a good Christian and human formation from my parents. They teach me how to be Christian; how to spend my life for others; how life should be lived as a gift. I learn concretely by seeing their dedication, kindness and attention for us their children. In short my parents are my role models.
“For you are at my side!” Yes, since I was a child the Lord was at my side through my parents and siblings.
This Christian formation I also received by participating in bible sharing groups in the area where I lived. In these groups I could grow in the spirituality and in the reality of my people. This same people enlightened and warmed my heart in order to recognize and to celebrate the presence of the Liberator God in our lives.
“For you are at my side!” The Lord was at my side in the presence of my people, who taught me, evangelized me and educated me in order to serve the Kingdom.
I was an active member of my parish Our Lady of Fatima, a xaverian parish. I was as an altar server, a catechist, a member of the choir, to name a few. In the story of my vocation my parish has been an important chapter. Actually the participation in the activities of my parish inspired me to become a priest. So, I started to look for orientation in order to discover the call of God for me. Little by little the xaverian missionary vocation was capturing my heart. In this period my parish priest helped me to discern the will of God.
Will of God!
I think that we need to understand this expression well. Because sometimes we interpret it as a magical concept, we interpret it as something ready-made from heaven. No, we are not puppets in the hands of God. This expression, the will of God, means to harmonize our song to the melody of God, by listening to his Word, by participating to the Eucharist, by recognizing his presence in our brothers and sisters and in our reality. Yes, to do the will of God is to harmonize our desire with the desire of God and to grow in freedom, awareness and love.
I didn´t receive any angel who told me to enter the seminary. I didn´t hear any particular voice. God called me through my reality, through the persons who were around me. And this is so beautiful because in this way we can discover our reality, our simple reality, full of the presence of God. This is the great miracle!
And so after a period of discernment, I joined the xaverians, when I was 15 years old, on February 06 in the year 2000 at 03:30 in the afternoon. I remember because for me it was a beautiful and an important moment, it was the beginning of my journey with the xaverian fathers, the beginning of my answer to the lovely call of God. Of course there were many challenges specially in the beginning of my journey. But I found in my friends, my family, my formators and in my companions in the seminary a great help in order to overcome these difficulties.
“For you are at my side!” Yes, the Lord was at my side also in those moments through the love and the presence of all these persons.
After two years in our minor seminary in Londrina I continued my path by studying the Philosophy and by making my novitiate. My novitiate was an important moment for me. In this period I could know better and deeper our congregation, which aim is to proclaim the Kingdom of God throughout the world and to testify, in spite of our limits, that new brotherhood founded by Christ. My novitiate was marked also by meetings full of humanity with many people, who testified to me the joy to follow Jesus. After this experience I professed my vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and mission with the desire to offer to the Lord all my life.
In the end of my novitiate I received with joy my assignment to go to Italy in order to study Theology. I arrived there in 2006. I found a xaverian community which welcomed me with open arms. The Italian people also gave me a warm welcome. My years in Italy were a wonderful and an unforgettable experience, a relevant experience in my life. There also I had my perpetual vows and I was ordained deacon. Before going back to Brazil in order to be ordained priest, my superiors assigned me to Thailand in order to work in our new mission.
In Brazil I was ordained priest on the 06th of August 2011, just last year. For me to be a priest is a great gift! Consecrated by the Lord in order to serve his people! I don´t find words to express my gratitude to the Lord for so great gift. I can say with the psalmist: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?”
“For you are at my side!” Yes, in the gift of the priesthood I see the presence of the Lord and I can listen to his invitation to be like him, the Good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep.
After my ordination I received another grace from the Lord, to come to Philippines before going to Thailand. I´m here not only studying English and preparing myself for the mission in Thailand, no! I´m here walking and living with this people, experiencing with this people the joy of being a part of a unique and great family united by the love of the Lord.
In the end there is only one word that I can say to the Lord, better two: Salamat po´, Thank you Lord because you are good and your love endures forever! And in saying thanks to the Lord I want to say thanks for all the people that in my life are a concrete sign of the love of God, in special way for my confreres for their brotherhood. Let us continue to testify together that the Lord is at our side, and he tells us:
“Do not be afraid, I am with you!”