New seminarian for Diocese of Salt Lake City

Friday, Jun. 28, 2024
New seminarian for Diocese of Salt Lake City + Enlarge
José Santana
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

HYDE PARK — José Santana has been accepted as the newest seminarian for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. He will attend Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon in July.

Although he felt the calling to the priesthood many years ago, life challenges as well as the noise of this world made him put the call aside, said Santana, who attends Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish in Hyde Park.

 It wasn’t until four years ago that he felt a big emptiness in his heart. “I realized that I was not happy,” he said. “My life was missing its purpose; my work was good, my bosses were good to me, everything seemed to be going good, but there was something missing.”

Then the COVID pandemic hit.

“I had the solitude that I needed, and I started to really feel the call, hearing God’s call,” Santana said. “It was in that moment of silence that I really heard God.”

After praying and listening with his heart, Santana went to talk to his pastor, Father Rogelio Felix-Rosas, who advised him to get in touch with Fr. Joseph Delka, the diocesan vocations director.

Fr. Delka instructed Santana that the first step toward the seminary that he needed to take was to finish his studies because when Santana was in his first years of high school his father got sick, so he had to find a job to support his family. Therefore, his studies were cut short.

“Fr. Delka told me to get my GED and after I got it, to come back to talk to him,” Santana said.

For a year, from May 2021 to May 2022, Santana worked hard to get his GED.

“Then I went to Fr. Delka, and he told me that now he needed me to have at least a year in college,” said Santana, who enrolled in Snow College, focusing on general studies.

“It was a real challenge,” Santana said. “I was not used to studying that hard, but I put everything in God’s hands and all the doors opened.”

His thoughts were always to make his best effort, “and [God] will guide me through these tests, and he did,” Santana said.

His family and friends were always a big support, he said. “They are very happy for me; they have always supported me in this new journey,” although his  mother was a bit reluctant at the beginning because “she wanted me to get married and give her grandkids.”

However, when she saw all the effort that he was putting in, and that “I was really happy pursuing my priesthood vocation, she told me that whatever I decided she was going to support me, and she has,” Santana said.

 Now that he is firmly on the path to one day be ordained a priest, all his family knows that he will be the pastor of many, many children, Santana said.

A cradle Catholic, Santana sees being Catholic means something distinctive.

“‘Catholic’ is a universal word, and it means something that is unique because we have the Eucharist, which is the center of our Church,” Santana said.

To the youth who may be pondering the call to religious life but are distracted by the noise of the world or “if their family doesn’t want them to follow that call, just hear the call,” Santana said. “This is important because in it, whatever God wants you to be, is the only place that you will find the real joy of life.”

People should not be frightened of following their call, whatever it may be, he said.

“I know that you get scared; I did, but you  should just follow God’s voice, listen to it in silence in your heart, in front of the Eucharist, and try it,” he said. “There is so much to win and nothing to lose.”

Santana’s family is originally from Jalisco, Mexico from the small town of Tamazula de Gordiano. He has two sisters and four younger brothers. He is the second oldest.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City has six seminarians; Deacon Anthony Shumway will be ordained a priest on June 28.

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