“Rome is the eternal city not because it never dies, but because it eternalizes you”

Sometimes we need an African’s story to realize the richness of Rome and its legacy for all

Francisco Eusébio Vinumo is a young Angolan seminarian who resides at the Sedes Sapientiae seminary in Rome and was just ordained a deacon a few months ago.

Francisco Eusebio Vinumo, an Angolan in Rome, sees with amazement the eternal city as an unimaginable dream. For him, it turns out like this: “It is a city with a Christian history of centuries. To be here is to touch the roots of our ancestors, our patriarchs in Christianity, to live and socialize with saints, martyrs, popes, and all those who have left their mark in the history of Christianity. Being here is an incomparable experience because you marvel at everything you see; you touch on things transmitted by the apostles and the saints… In short, being in Rome is experiencing the universality of the Church.”

A family of six brothers

But until he arrived in Rome, Francisco Eusebio went through different tests and choices. He grew up happy in a large family. He is the youngest of six siblings, from a family well protected and cared for by her mother, María Teresa de Jesús, who instilled in her children the love of the Lord.

His life went on normally. And that is why he explains that his vocation had nothing extraordinary, “like the biblical vocations of Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel and those of some priests and nuns, which had a kind of magical touch.” However, perhaps that ‘magic touch’ that Francisco speaks of was given to him by his dear mother throughout an ordinary, everyday life.

Maria Teresa, the African mother who educates and cares

Maria Teresa, as an African mother who welcomes, educates and cares, encouraged her six children (three boys and three girls, and a seventh in heaven) to participate in religious activities, such as catechism and the rosary that they sometimes prayed in family and, most importantly, attendance at Holy Mass.

As a disciplined and traditionalist family in Africa, they received some punishments if they did not participate in religious activities, something that is not recommended, but that Francisco remembers without trauma, as something funny in the Christian life of our family, funny because of its usualness, “but it was very significant for our religious formation.”

Therefore, going to Mass and catechism was an obligation for the children and, if they did not participate, they were punished without a meal and washing all the dishes. And as his story will surely be missed, Francisco clarifies with a smile: “A mother’s love is so great that, for those who were punished, in the end she always saved some food for us, even if it was not a complete meal.” .

Pedagogical punishment

Francisco insists that this type of punishment, no matter how inadvisable it may seem, both he and his brothers remember with nostalgia and gratitude, because, just as God corrects his children with love, this punishment was pedagogical, because our mother always wanted our well and wanted to see us on the right path. And thanks to these punishments, my vocational adventure began.

Between the pedagogical punishment and attendance at Mass, an interest awoke in him: observing the priest carefully. «His way of celebrating him captivated me, especially when he sang. In the immensity and diversity with which God calls people to his vineyard, in those moments I felt called to serve him.

His seminarian brother

Another no less important figure in the discovery of his vocation was his brother, who at that time was already a seminarian and now a priest. His testimony greatly influenced his choice.

So he began attending the vocations group at his parish, led by the Sisters of the Holy Savior, and then joined the group of altar boys.

However, the process of entering the seminary was not easy. Firstly, the parish priest had to make an election, because the number of altar servers and vocations is greater than the number of vacancies. Fortunately, he was one of the chosen ones. But the battle was not over yet, as he had to pass another admission test for the minor seminary. Once again, the number of applicants was enormous. As they say: “when God calls you, he insists until you get it.”

After the test, a few days later, he excitedly discovered that he was one of those admitted. Thus, at the age of 14, in 2011, He entered the Our Lady of Mercy minor seminary, in the archdiocese of Huambo.

Challenges and difficulties

As with every path, there have been difficulties and challenges in his seminary career, but today he feels increasingly mature in his priestly vocation.

In the seminaries I have been to, both in Angola and here in Rome, in the Sedes Sapientiae seminary, everything has come together so that my faith, my love for God, the Virgin Mary and my perseverance in the vocation grew and became stronger and stronger he says enthusiastically.

His experience in Rome

And from Africa to Rome, as he related at the beginning, his stay in the city of the Tiber is causing him such amazement that he has no words to describe it. Or maybe yes: a “unique, singular, unrepeatable and enriching” experience.

Because for him, coming into contact with a reality different from the one he was used to is always enriching, especially when it comes to a new culture and a totally different modus vivendi.

“I am living this exciting reality because being in Rome, the capital of Christianity, is a unique occasion and opportunity. You not only come into contact with a new culture, but with a variety of cultures, meeting people from all over the world. This is experienced in the coexistence of the seminary and the university, but also in the surroundings of the city of Rome and Italy, where we interact with the world,” says this young Angolan.

The feeling of Catholicity

Within the variety of people from different countries and cultures, for Francisco there is something that unites them: Christianity, and especially Catholicism.

“This experience makes you really see and live the nature of the phrase ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic’ of the Church, and thus be united in diversity. Living in Rome is a continuous learning process, a unique and unrepeatable wealth, and I am savoring it. I truly see the beauty of the Church in its universality. I dare to say that Rome is the eternal city, not because it never dies, but because it eternalizes you.”


And for this wonderful experience that he is living in his beloved Rome, in the Sedes Sapientiae International Seminary and in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, he wants to conclude with a sincere and heartfelt gratitude:
«Today, as a deacon, the only thing I have to say is: thank you, thank you, gratias tibi Domini, and thank you to the benefactors of the CARF Foundation for giving me the immense opportunity to train as a seminarian and priest in the Eternal City of Rome !».