This month we get to know two of the men from Pro Ecclesia Sancta (PES), Father Carlos Farfan and Brother Bryan Esquivias. Father Carlos is the superior at the Nazareth Formation House in Sioux Falls. He was ordained on December 11, 2004. He was born in Lima, Peru, and has two older sisters. Brother Bryan is in formation to become a priest with PES. He was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, grew up in California, and has two younger sisters.
Father Carlos, how did you get your call to the priesthood?
Nobody in my family expected me to become a priest. Maybe just my grandma. She was praying for a son or for a grandson to become a priest. One of my uncles joined a seminary in Peru, but he stayed only a couple years, I think. And I think that she had a great influence in my vocation because the night when I was asked to call my family to announce my diaconate ordination, I asked my superior, “Father, what is the date so I can tell them when to come for the ordination?” And he said to me, “March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph.”
Then I called my mom and she began to cry. I said, “What’s going on? You must be joyful.” Then she told me a tradition in the family that I didn’t know, that every male, every son should be married on the feast of St. Joseph, according to my grandma.
This is significant because also I was ordained as a deacon on March 19. Then I thought, oh, maybe grandma was the one who intercede for me from heaven because I remember a couple times she tried to take me to Mass on Sundays, but you know what Mass? 6:00 a.m.
That’s very early for almost anyone! How old were you and did you
go to Mass?
I was 7 or 8 years old. I said no way. But I remember she was fasting from the day before, from Saturday evening. She dressed with a veil, sometimes all black, she received communion and knelt, she stayed there. I was a little kid! I said, oh, this is too much. She’s a fanatic. But then after many years I understood what she was doing and for whom she was doing it.
Brother Bryan, how did you get your call to the priesthood?
I was born in Mexico and at the age of 8, as a family we moved to California. We were raised Catholic, practicing Catholic since a young age. When I was about 13 years old, I was diagnosed with back problems. It was like a generational thing: my dad had it, my grandpa had it. And I was told that if I were to grow up to be an adult, I wouldn’t be able to walk again.
I was invited to a healing Mass where the priest would come after Mass with the monstrance. And while he was coming by my bench, I reached over to touch his back. He turns around and covers me with the humeral veil as he was holding the monstrance in front of me. At the moment I just closed my eyes. I didn’t feel anything for those 30 seconds. When I woke up, my mom was crying and she went up to the priest and she asked him, “Why did you cover my son?” And she told him, because God just healed him from his back.
That is incredible! What happened after that?
A few weeks passed and my mom saw my back. She’s like, “Bryan, is someone hurting you at school?” I’m like, “No, what’s going on?” She showed me a picture. I have five scars across my back, and that’s when she made the connection that God had healed me, and he decided to leave a strong mark on my back.
You never had back surgery?
I haven’t, no. Since then I haven’t had any back problems. And now I’m an adult and I’m walking. God used that over the years. People would tell me, I see you being a priest, and I would always deny. I wanted to have a family and kids. And then I was invited to a retreat my junior year in high school. While on the retreat, my youth minister gave me a book on discernment. And so I started reading the book, going through it over the next few months. I got to the chapter where it tells you the requirements to be ordained to priesthood, and one of those is to have all your limbs. You can’t be disabled. You can’t be missing a hand or something. And that’s when it clicked that God had healed me so that I can become a priest for him. When I made that connection, I finally started to accept the call.
What are the two of you doing for the diocese?
Fr. Carlos: we minister, especially the novices, at the campus ministry at O’Gorman Junior High School on the weekends, at least twice a month. We support the parishes in Mitchell, Holy Spirit and Holy Family, with Father Cesar and Father Yamato. We have also visited some parishes nearby.
Can any man interested in PES join your order?
Fr. Carlos: It’s open to anyone who is interested. You can call or email us, or visit proecclesiasancta.org to find out more.