The following comes from a Sept. 3 story in the Angelus, Los Angeles online archdiocesan newspaper. (Photo: J.D. Long-García)
….Founded in 2003, the Juan Diego House [a house of formation for college-age seminarians for the Los Angeles archdiocese] has been run for the past eight years by Father James Anguiano. In 2008, Father Anguiano’s inaugural year as director of activities, the house hosted eight seminarians.
This year, that number has blossomed to 26, and a program that was initially contained in one building has expanded to five housing units spread along the block of its Gardena neighborhood.
“It’s exciting and frightening at the same time,” says Father Anguiano of accommodating the recent spike in vocations. “I told Archbishop Gomez ‘We gotta slow down praying for vocations. I’m at capacity!’ [Laughs] But it’s a good problem to have. Having a local example of living, breathing vocations that are alive and active in our community is really exciting.
“….I encourage the men to allow the true self to come forward,” explains Father Anguiano. “Not trying to be the person I’m not, but rather the person God has created me to be I think is very, very important. Realizing that these feelings that we have are real, and not to try and hide them or tuck them away, but to deal with them whether it’s in formation, spiritual direction, or whatever it may be.
“Learning to be honest about what you’re feeling. Because we need healthy priests. Priests who are going to be honest. Priests who are going to be men of integrity. And you have to be honest with yourself and with God so that you can be the person God has created you to be. Not someone else.”
The program at Juan Diego House is built upon four “pillars of formation”: spiritual, human, pastoral and academic. This program, which aims to assist each seminarian to “know himself better, have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a priest and be committed to serving God and neighbor,” includes activities such as daily Mass, eucharistic adoration, meeting regularly with an assigned spiritual advisor and two retreats per year.