Spiritual retreat leads Father Francisco Godínez to make some major life choices
The following story appeared in the February 11 Idaho Catholic Register.
By Vero Gutierrez
FRUITLAND – In the first hours after arriving at a retreat to which
a friend had invited him, Francisco Godínez thought to himself, “Someone get me out of here!” Although he says he initially wanted to run from the retreat as the hours progressed, he realized that something was transforming inside him.
Francisco was about 17 at the time and, he said, would never have even thought of being a priest. His goal 25 years ago was to be an accounting auditor.
Midway through his accounting studies, one of his female classmates who was attracted to him invited him to the retreat. His family was astonished to learn that he had agreed to participate in the spiritual retreat because when he went to Mass it was only to please his mother. Religion was not on his list of priorities.
As the retreat began, he was deter-mined not to participate, not to go to confession nor to Eucharist because he had been away from the sacraments for a long time.
“It’s funny because it wasn’t even the end of the first day of the retreat, and I already wanted to run away from that place,” said Father Godínez. “However, I had an unhealthy motivation that helped me stay there.” That motivation, he said, was the delicious food and spontaneous fun with friends.
However, he recalls being impressed by the powerful prayer to bless the food. “I had never done anything like this before in my family,” he said, “but I found so much meaning in giving thanks to God because He has given us food to feed us. That definitely ap-pealed to me. It was the first time I felt like giving thanks to God.”
He also recalled experiencing a real conversion during a Mass on this retreat, which was called, “Journey of the Christian Life.”
“When I received Communion, it was the first time that I experienced what it means to be at peace with God,” he said “They asked us to write a letter, which I still keep. I didn’t know it at the time, but that letter marked a change in me that would last the rest of my life.”
Reading the Bible, sometime after the retreat, Father Godínez came across Matthew 10:37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
“I was trying to discern what was happening, because that biblical passage was disturbing,” said Father Godínez because he knew he might have to make a choice of his faith or his family. “I spoke with a friend who told me, ‘Maybe God is calling you to something else.’ ”
No longer able to concentrate on his classes at the university, he decided to do a discernment retreat at Morelia Seminary in his native Mexico.
He found that he was happy at the seminary. His life had indeed changed. He was no longer criticizing priests but was instead defending them.
After a few setbacks at the seminary in Morelia, a friend invited him to join him in the United States. Father Godínez first came to Idaho in September 2002. Before he could resume his seminary studies, he studied English full-time with classes in the morning at Boise State University and personal tutoring in the afternoon. Having already completed his Philosophy studies at Conception Seminary in Mexico, he completed his Theology courses at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.
Diocese of Boise Bishop Michael Driscoll allowed him to be ordained a deacon by Bishop Carlos Suárez Cáza-rez, in his hometown of La Piedad, Michoacán. He was ordained a priest a year later, on June 10, 2010, by Bishop Driscoll at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Since his ordination, Father Godínez, many times affectionally referred to as “Father Pako,” has served at St. Pius X in Coeur d’Alene, St. Nicholas in Rupert and currently at Corpus Christi in Fruitland.
At St. Pius X in Coeur d’Alene, he worked to unite the Anglo and Latino communities by starting the Virgin of Guadalupe festivities and the international food festival so that parishioners could enjoy the cultural richness of different countries.
At St. Nicholas in Rupert, he helped create new groups and ministries such as the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, Nocturnal Adoration, and the Guadalupanas, a group dedicated to caring for the sick.
While at St. Nicholas, he left for two years to study Canon Law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. His degree in canon law has been helpful in processing annulment cases for the Latino community in the Diocese of Boise, especially those who are not fluent in reading or writing English.
“Before issuing a verdict as a judge, I ask the Holy Spirit for His intervention so that He is the one who makes the final decision (in an annulment case),” Father Godínez said. “I trust that under His inspiration, His will and not mine will be done.”
Father Godínez stressed that in his vocation he has learned to work in humility and that God can do great things if we allow Him to do so.
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