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Back to 2014_05_26_TEO_La Teología hay que rumiarla

"Theology is something to ruminate on."

Conversation with Ulises Rolando Mendoza, of El Salvador

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Ulises Rolando Mendoza is from El Salvador. PHOTO: Manuel Casrtells
26/05/14 09:01 Fina Trèmols

When Ulises was 7 years old one day his teacher asked him to draw what he wanted to be when he grew up. He painted a house, next to which there was a family with two children, a dog and a car.

He lived in the canton of Nuevo Sitio del Niño, in the town of San Juan Opico, at department La Libertad, in El Salvador. He is the eldest of three siblings and the only boy. His family has limited economic resources and the only income source comes from his father. Ulises' parents were Christian, but not particularly religious. They were not even married. Anyway, his mother asked him every Sunday if he would go to Mass with her and he refused for two years. He preferred to stay at home with his father. His mother never gave up inviting him, until Ulysses said yes. He started going to church. He continued to be a catechist and later coordinated the altar boys.

When Ulises made that drawing he wanted to be an accountant, and it is clear that he wanted to have a family, two children, a dog and a car. In fact, 10 years later, when he was about to enter university, he found that drawing and once again confirmed this idea.

But one day in February 2007, during a confession, the priest, who knew him as an altar boy in the parish, asked him point-blank if he had ever thought of becoming a priest. That unexpected but accepted question shattered that picture. God had another plan.

At the beginning his parents were a little indifferent to his decision, but they supported him. In April of that year he began a process of vocational discernment through the pastoral ministry of his Archdiocese. This process concluded with an interview with the bishop, which would be on December 12; until then he would not have the yes or no to enter the seminar. At the same time it was time to take the test entrance exam to the University, to study as an accountant: he took it just in case and passed with flying colors. And he missed the deadline of enrollment. "This meant the first Withdrawal of my life," says Ulises.

The bishop accepted him on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He saw him as a mime of Our Lady. His parents accompanied him to the interdiocesan propaedeutic seminar of St. Anne.

The people of his canton began to congratulate his father for having a son on seminar. One, and another, and another. This brought him to his senses and he approached the church. In December 2008, Ulysses attended the wedding of his parents, who were married along with more than a dozen other couples.

The following year, the bishop asked him to go to study at the Theology at the University of NavarraHe had obtained for him a scholarship. It was very hard for him to leave his country and, for his mother, dramatic. "My second Withdrawal," he says.

Five years have passed since then. Ulises was ordained a deacon on March 22 at St. Nicholas Parish in Pamplona and on June 19 he returned to his country. "In this time I have met people from other cultures, different ways of thinking. At first I saw it as a difficulty; now I interpret it as a richness, one more example of what the universal Church is." He has done pastoral work during two summers and this past Holy Week in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in La Cala del Moral, Malaga.

"From the School of Theology I am struck by the way the professors teach their classes. It is not something hackneyed, repeated ad nauseam. It is the fruit of the research: and it is that theology is something you have to ruminate on", concludes Ulises.