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Seminarian embarks on road to priesthood

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Pablo Santa Maria Watson (right) waits to be called to the altar in a pew beside his mother Maria Watson, father Pablo Santa Maria, and sister Ana. His brother Humberto and grandparents from Mexico were also present. Photo by Brent Mattson / The B.C. CatholicDeacon Pablo Santa Maria Watson hopes to take his vocation to the next level in the summer of 2012
By Brent Mattson
The B.C. Catholic

VANCOUVER--Deacon Pablo Santa Maria Watson knows an ordination is comparable to a wedding rather than a funeral, even if a lot of people don't see it that way.

"They think a vocation is a sad thing, but you see these men are joyful, and you can only get this joy through Christ," Deacon Santa Maria said. "The world tries to offer this happiness, but it is temporary. A stimulation of the senses is not happiness."

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, ordained Santa Maria a deacon at Holy Rosary Cathedral June 3. During his homily the archbishop spoke of the joyousness of the day and the promise of perpetual celibacy Deacon Santa Maria would make.

"Celibacy is a positive value which enables a man to imitate Christ in all things, to love Him exclusively, to put everything into His hands, to be available for ministry wherever his promise of obedience takes him," he said. "Few gestures today are more countercultural than this: giving up the companionship of a spouse and the joy of family life for the sake of the kingdom."

Deacon Santa Maria and his family moved to Canada from their home in Mexico City in 2001 and settled in Richmond. Though they had always been a religious family, the Church took on a whole new dimension for them in Canada.

"In Mexico everyone is Catholic, which is great, but here in Canada it's really a choice," he said. "Mexican people are very close to family. Without ours, we needed another connection. John the Apostle (Parish) gave us that sense of community."
Shortly before his ordination, diaconal candidate Pablo Santa Maria Watson lies prostrate before the altar as the congegation invokes the aid of the angels and saints. Photo by Brent Mattson / The B.C. Catholic
Though he said every ordination story is unique, Deacon Santa Maria claims his is ordinary in many ways. He said travelling to World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, while in Grade 12 at Vancouver College, played an important role in his discernment. In particular, seeing Pope John Paul II, as well as all the young people excited by Christ, was inspiring.

"I had the fortune of travelling with priests who kept asking if the men were interested in the priesthood, and I began to give it real thought," he said.

He began attending Vocations in Progress meetings after Msgr. Gregory Smith took him to his first one. Soon, he entered the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission.

"People think of seminarians as boring, always praying and studying, (but) you can't judge a book by its cover," Deacon Santa Maria said. "My first year at seminary was a fun year."

His mother Maria Watson, father Pablo Santa Maria, sister Ana, brother Humberto, and grandparents from Mexico watched proudly as the archbishop laid hands on Deacon Santa Maria. Archbishop Miller thanked Deacon Santa Maria's family for offering their son's service to the Church.

"Pablo is being taken out of this world and given entirely to the service of God and to His Church," he said. "The one ordained is in some very real sense removed from worldly bonds and given over to friendship with the Lord. Precisely in this way, starting with God Himself, the deacon must be available for others, for everyone."

After his ordination, Deacon Santa Maria wasted no time before beginning his summer assignment in Star of the Sea Parish. He preached his first homily at Good Shepherd Church June 4, the day after his ordination.

"I was a little nervous, but it went well," he said a few days later. "I'm very lucky to be part of the clergy in the archdiocese."

Deacon Santa Maria said he's excited about his new position, but he hopes to keep moving forward.

"God willing, I'll be ordained a priest sometime next summer," he said. "It's a real blessing and a real gift from God. God gives us grace and it's up to us to accept it."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 08:47  

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