Religious vocations also a career option

Jose Soto, Staff Reporter

A religious vocational calling has some students tackling on more than the usual college tasks.  Although it may seem rare, these students seek to serve the church while pursuing their college degrees. These students follow up their college education with an additional five years for a master’s degree in divinity. Alongside nursing and practicing law, pursuing the priesthood is a lengthy endeavor, but there are a few who embark
on the journey.

One recent UTEP graduate has experienced this first hand.  Francisco Hernandez, a philosophy graduate, is continuing his quest for priesthood.  Hernandez is now enrolled at the University of Saint Thomas
in Houston.

Hernandez said most students pursue a bachelor’s degree in Catholic or Christian philosophy at a college associated with the Catholic Church, but he chose to pursue secular philosophy, without focusing entirely
on religion.

“My degree in philosophy gives me the foundation of understanding the philosophical questions of our human nature,” Hernandez said. “I will use these degrees in my ministry to  rely on them to provide spiritual care to the people I will be serving.”

The Catholic Campus Ministry, located at 2230 North Oregon Street, is a religious center that offers mass, counseling and bible studies for students, faculty and staff members.

Father Andy Martinez, one of the directors and priests at the ministry, helps students follow their religious beliefs while undertaking the demands of receiving a
college education.

“Our organization serves as a way to help students maintain their Catholic identity within a secular school,” Martinez said.

Alberto Bravo, sophomore history major, wants to foster his faith as well as the faith of the community while pursuing his bachelor’s degree.

“We all experience the ride, that we have come to call college, in our own unique way,” Bravo said. “I do think, however, that a religious vocation adds an extra flavor to it. Plus I think it makes the educational journey a bit longer, all in good faith of course.”

Bravo also said he believes it is important to receive an education, but said a degree serves no purpose if its primary function is not to
serve others.

“Through the church, I will learn theology and how to find God and guide others in their faith,” he said. “Yet in college, you learn the needs of the world, you learn to see things from a new perspective alongside different students within a diverse background. This will hopefully enable me to one day merge both my vocation and degree to understand and
serve people.”

Bravo said that although it might seem uncommon for students to pursue a religious vocation, it is also uncommon for individuals who have decided to follow a calling with the church to attend college at all.

“Mostly, when one thinks of people in the process for a religious vocation, they think of them immediately right after high school jumping on a bus and being shipped out to a monastery or seminary, somewhere to avoid life corrupting them, but that is not the case,” he said. “Though many young men do join right out of high school, everyone’s religious vocation journey is a bit different.”

For more information on the Catholic Campus Ministry, contact Father Andy Martinez at 915-838-0300 or at [email protected]

Jose Soto may be reached at [email protected]