"And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men'.” (Mark 1:17. 17)
One of the noble messages of life is to guide people who go astray in life and help them choose the correct path of forwardness, rectify their mistakes in life, and keep them away from following winding paths through the woods of wrongdoing and sins.
So many people in the world have willingly or unwillingly followed paths devoid of purity of heart, goodness, altruism, and compassion. Such people need divine guidance that shows them the right path to be followed in life so as to extricate them from an apocalyptic future.
Amidst a world abounding with violence, wars, sins and insecurity among others indicate that there are currently more than 100,000 young men and women studying and training in seminaries around the world with unwavering determination to delve into the priestly vocation. This explains how important it is that all Catholics pray for these young, brave, bold, and generous seminarians to help them as they discern God’s will.
In the midst of all stories relevant to men who choose to serve the Lord, an interesting event took place in more than 400 miles separate Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, a riverside town deep in Brazil’s Amazon Forest, from the Seminary of Saint Joseph, in Manaus.
The real-life story took place at the riverside town that Rolisson Afonso’s journey to the seminary began. He recalls, “I was born in Manaus, but my mother was too young to take care of me, and she had financial difficulties, so I was sent to live with my grandparents in Santa Isabel do Rio Negro. My grandparents were devout Catholics. They could barely read or write, but we would pray every day, reflect on the Gospel, pray the Holy Rosary, and go to Holy Mass every Sunday.”
He used to go fishing with his grandfather as the river was everything to the community, a point of access, of recreation, but above all a source of life and sustenance. He used to fish for long hours in order to provide food for the family due to the fact that he was unable to afford an outboard motor that would help paddle to nearby islands.
As days went by and he grew up in wisdom, he moved to Manaus to further his studies and to live with his mother and siblings. Ironically, this move away from his Catholic grandparents was what put him back on the path to the Church. “My mother and my siblings are Evangelicals. They would ask me questions about my Catholic faith, but I wasn’t able to answer them. So, I went looking and discovered a community near my house. I became involved and joined a youth group,” he said.
After getting a job, the conversation with his grandmother had stayed in the back of his mind and now returned. Having experienced life in the remoteness of the Amazon, he knew better than most how much these communities need priests. “Some of these riverside communities only get visited by a priest once a year, or once a month. He arrives, celebrates Mass, and then returns to the city. This is one of the reasons I want to be a priest, to take the sacraments, the Gospel, to these people, to serve their needs,” he says.
Meanwhile, Rolisson continued to be moved every time he read passages of the Gospels related to fishing. “Just as Jesus walked along the margins of the Sea of Galilee, calling his disciples, who were simple people; to be fishers of men, so does he call us, and so does he call the riverside communities to be His disciples and proclaim the Gospel.”
And just as any fisherman needs equipment to practise his trade, so do these new fishers of men who are called to evangelize the Amazonian regions, need more material goods, such as modern boats to better reach their flocks.
Rolisson said, “I would like to thank all the Aid to the Church in Need benefactors for helping us, and ask them to keep doing so, so that we can have more priests for our Amazon, for the whole world, and continue to take the Eucharist and our pastoral work to furthest reaches."
In all moments of life people seek pious people who are glorified through their august deeds in the service of the Lord. They are namely “the priests” who are the instrument used by the Almighty God for the salvation of souls.
On February 6, 2016, Pope Francis addressed the priests on the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests saying, “The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner.”
Let us highly venerate priests in all societies for the divine services they provide to people and thank them for the noble service they provide that quenches their thirst for the divine message in the Holy Bible.