Pope Francis is celebrating today 52 years of priesthood. On December 13, 1969, Jorge Mario Bergoglio received priestly ordination from the hands of Monsignor Ramon Jose Castellano, Archbishop Emeritus of Cordoba, Argentina. That day was Saturday, the eve of the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, or Sunday of Joy.
The Pope’s Vocation
On the Vigil of Pentecost in 2013, asked by a young woman, “How he attained in his life the certitude of the faith?” Francis confessed that Saint Matthew’s day, September 21, is “very important” for him, concretely, the year 1953.
“I was almost 17. It was the ‘Day of the Student,’ for us the day of spring — for you here the day of autumn. Before going to the celebration, I went to the parish I frequented and found a priest I didn’t know and felt the need to go to Confession. This was for me an experience of encounter: I met with someone who was waiting for me. But I don’t know what happened, I don’t remember, I don’t know why that priest was there, whom I didn’t know, because I felt that need to go to Confession, but the truth is that someone was waiting for me. He had been waiting for me for a long time,” he said.
“After my Confession, I felt something had changed. I wasn’t the same. In fact, I had heard like a voice, a call; I was convinced that I had to be a priest,” he added.
“Here I am! I’m a Priest”
On May 21, 2017, during a meeting in the Roman parish of Saint Peter, the Pope was also asked the question: “How were you able to discern your priestly vocation?” After recalling that “each one of us has a place in life,” the Pontiff continued: “And one day I felt, but suddenly, I was 16 and I felt that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Here I am! I’m a priest. This is the answer; it’s felt in the heart. When a boy feels affection in his heart, and then the affection continues, and he feels love for a girl and then they become engaged and get married, this is what one feels in the heart when the Lord says: ‘You must follow the path to be a priest.” And that’s how I felt it, as the good things of life are felt because they are good.”
According to the Vatican, before his Ordination, the present Bishop of Rome graduated as a chemical technician, and then chose the path of priesthood, entering the diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. On March 11, 1958, he went to the noviciate of the Society of Jesus.
Francis, Priest, and Jesuit
He completed his Humanities studies in Chile and, in 1963, on returning to Argentina, he graduated in Philosophy from Saint Joseph’s College in San Miguel. From 1964-1965 he was Professor of Literature and Psychology in the School of the Immaculate Conception in Santa Fe and, in 1966, he taught the same subjects in the School of the Saviour in Buenos Aires. From 1967-1970 he studied Theology at Saint Joseph’s College and got a Bachelor’s degree.
After being ordained a priest, today’s Bishop of Rome continued his preparation in the Society of Jesus from 1970 to 1971 in Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on April 22, 1973, he made his perpetual profession.