Bro. Miguel Suarez
Makes Perpetual Profession
Bro. Miguel Suarez, SDB, made his definitive commitment to God in the Society of St. Francis de Sales on Saturday, Aug. 6. The solemn Rite of Perpetual Profession of the vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity took place within Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester, N.Y.
Fr. Tom Dunne, provincial, presided and preached. Eighteen Salesian priests concelebrated. The congregation also included members of Bro. Miguel’s family, Salesian brothers and sisters, Cooperators, Salesian Lay Missioners, Holy Rosary parishioners, former students of Bro. Miguel from Salesian High School in New Rochelle, and friends.
Miguel, whose parents are deceased, was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. with some of his family in 1985. They settled in Port Chester and joined Holy Rosary Parish, which was Miguel’s first contact with the Salesians.
He soon became very involved in the parish’s youth ministry program. Influenced by Fr. Tim Zak, coordinator of youth ministry, and the late Fr. John Murphy, coordinator of ministry to the Hispanic community, Miguel eventually realized that he would like to work with young people and immigrants as they were doing.
So in 2001 Miguel applied to enter the Salesians and joined the candidacy program at Orange, N.J. Two years later he was admitted to the novitiate at Mary Help of Christians Parish in Manhattan, and on Aug. 16, 2004, he made his first profession of religious vows there.
Bro. Miguel returned to Orange for postnovitiate formation, during which he completed a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Seton Hall University in 2007. During his practical training at Salesian High School, he taught religion and coordinated the intramural sports program. As part of his religion teaching he took up John Paul II’s theology of the body, on which he speaks occasionally to parish and youth groups.
In 2009 Bro. Miguel resumed his studies for the priesthood at the Salesian Theological School in Tlaquepaque, Mexico. After a year he transferred to Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall and re-entered the formation community at Orange. There he directs the RCIA program for Spanish-speakers at Our Lady of the Valley Church, to which the formation community is attached, and serves as a general assistant to the young candidates first trying out Salesian life.
He anticipates ordination to the diaconate next spring and to the presbyterate in 2013.
Bro. Miguel says, “God’s call is a blessing for me, for my family, for my friends who’ve supported me all these years.”
Holding a baptismal candle just lit from the paschal candle (right), to show the link between the call to Christian discipleship received in Baptism and the call being answered in religious life, Bro. Miguel Suarez pronounces perpetual vows before Fr. Tom Dunne and two witnesses (Fr. Steve Shafran and Bro. Tom Dion).
In his homily at the profession Mass, Fr. Tom noted that it was the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. He said that the apostles had followed a “vocational path” to meet God on the mountain with Jesus, and in a similar kind of way Bro. Miguel is following a path with Jesus in poverty, chastity, obedience, community life, and the Salesian mission of bringing the Gospel to all people.
Fr. Tom said that the Lord had chosen Bro. Miguel and led him by a myriad of experiences and circumstances to this day. “The Lord worked hard, and Miguel responded,” making a commitment to listen to the Lord always, as the Father’s voice instructed the three apostles on the mountain.
Fr. Tom also pointed out that perpetual profession is not the end of one’s commitment, but is a commitment to continued growth in discipleship, one day at a time, forever. He urged Bro. Miguel never to lose his sense of being consecrated to God, of serving the young, of living in community.
Then, noting the death earlier that same morning of Fr. Pat Diver (see post below), after 48 years of Salesian life—the last year spent in illness, unable to do anything but offer his sufferings to God on behalf of the young—Fr. Tom reminded Bro. Miguel that the vocation of a consecrated person is a vocation “to be,” not just “to do.”