“Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was inadvertently discovering the scriptural foundations of Catholic doctrine.”
Meet the rest of my class
My name is Antonio La Barbera. I am called to serve Christ and His Church as a priest with the Diocese of Lubbock. This is my story.
I grew up in a devout family, spending the first years of my life in Italy. My mother consecrated me to the Sacred Heart of Jesus before I was born, with the intention that I would become a priest. As a young child, my playtime was filled with bringing flowers to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Anthony and any other of the saints that my grandparents had images and statues of in their home. I also loved hearing the Church bells as they announced the beginning of Mass.
When my family moved to the United States, I continued to be interested in my Catholic faith throughout high school. As a senior in high school, I was an altar server at a local parish. I attended daily Mass before going to school, and I prayed the Rosary daily. At that time, I met with the vocation director for my home diocese, but I was advised to go out and mature a little before trying to discern a vocation to the priesthood. It took many years for me to be open to the priesthood again, but God kept pursuing me relentlessly.
In college, I left the Catholic Church because I came to believe that the teachings of the Church were not supported by the scriptures. I promised that I would never return. I joined a protestant church and was heavily involved there for many years. I became a leader in that church and helped to lead the communion services. This was a foreshadowing of my future vocation. One day, as I lifted the bread and wine during a communion service, I heard in my heart: “I want you to do this for me for real. I want you to do this in my Church.” I was confused because I thought I was already part of the true church.
Throughout the years with this protestant church, I studied the scriptures and began to question that church’s teachings. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was inadvertently discovering the scriptural foundations of Catholic doctrine. This led me to leave the church I was a part of and eventually find my way back to the Catholic Church. God led me to good people who explained Catholic teachings that I had found difficult.
After returning to the Catholic Church, I became involved in the life of my parish. I began spiritual direction with the parish priest. He saw my thirst for knowledge and suggested I take classes at the local seminary as a lay student. Being at the Seminary stirred up that call to the priesthood that had been there since childhood. I was convicted of my calling once again and decided to actively follow what God wanted of me and seek His blessing.
Now that I am actively discerning a priestly vocation, I can hardly imagine myself doing anything else with the life God has given to me. I want to make sure that the people of God have access to the Sacraments of the One True Church, and are able to learn of the great mercy and love of God that is available to them.
Please pray for me and for my fellow Labouré classmates on our vocation journeys.
Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have at: Antonio@rescuevocations.org.
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