The diocese will be receiving a new priest when Transitional Deacon Andres Ayala Santiago is ordained to the priesthood on December 9. Bishop Fernando Isern will ordain Deacon Andres at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pueblo.
Deacon Andres was born November 5, 1978 in the City of Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico to Fernando Ayala Nuño and Maria del Refugio Santiago Robles as the second of four children. He has one brother, Fernando and two sisters, Claudia Elizabeth and Aurora Cecilia.
He grew up with his family in Jalisco Ahualulco de Mercado Jalisco and learned from them human and spiritual values. It is in this city where he attended school from elementary to high school. After this last stage, and after careful discernment, he decided to knock on the doors at the Seminary of Guadalajara. He entered the Seminary of Guadalajara in 1996, where he took courses in spirituality, three years of philosophy, three years of theology and a year of pastoral service.
Deacon Andres had always considered going elsewhere to serve God, and by the grace of God, Bishop Arthur Tafoya gave him the opportunity to fulfill this ideal. He, thus, came to the Diocese of Pueblo in 2007. Bishop Tafoya asked him to return to Mexico City to the Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria de Guadalupe where his theological studies would be completed before being ordained a priest.
He was installed a lector in February of 2008, at the Seminario Conciliar of Mexico by Cardinal Norberto Rivera and in July of the same year he was installed an acolyte at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pueblo by Bishop Tafoya. In February of the following year, he was admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders in the Cathedral of Mexico City by Cardinal Norberto Rivera and on March 6, 2009 he was ordained into the Order of Deacons in the National Insigne Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City by Bishop Tafoya.
Deacon Andres returned to the Diocese of Pueblo in October of 2009 for pastoral service. He was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Alamosa for eight months and then to the parishes of St. Peter in Gunnison, Queen of all Saints in Crested Butte and St. Rose of Lima in Lake City, where he remains until the day of his priestly ordination.
Director of Communications Katie Chrisman had the opportunity to ask Deacon Andres a few questions over email:
Q: How did you know that God was calling you to priesthood?
A: While still a child and after receiving my First Communion, it came to me, the idea of being a priest. I kept the thought to myself, because my family called me “doctorcito” and “niño bailador” (doctor and dancer). I kept to myself all the enthusiasm that participating in the Eucharist aroused in me. Well, with this you can see how complicated it was for me. I desired to be a priest, and was passionate about the idea of becoming a doctor. My grandmother, Aurora Robles, took me with her to attend a Bible study, a group of retired ladies in the home of Mrs. Lola Carvajal. Upon my arrival I was greeted as “doctorcito” (doc). This nickname clarified my identity that I was to be a doctor. I went on to read and learn the Bible. But who would have imagined that one day I would become, by the grace of God, a doctor of souls.
At the age of 14 years I was invited by Fr. Agustín Dávila to a retreat for teenagers and young adults called "Pandillas de Vida Cristiana” (Gang of Christian life). That's where the idea of being a priest, that I had as a child, appeared with more intensity. The voice of God rang within me, which I sensed to be a call the ministerial priesthood.
This voice would not be silent. At 16, I talked to my pastor, Fr. Salvador Pérez Barba about this concern. He invited me to talk with Fr Ramiro Gonzalez Reynoso about a vocation. I took part in extensive pastoral service, altar service, youth ministry and the worship team in my neighborhood “La Ciénega.”
At the age of 17, I was about to finish high school, when Fr. Salvador invited me to participate in a pre-seminary vocational Retreat at the Diocesan Seminary of Guadalajara. I accepted despite still feeling drawn to medicine. I was about to make a decision in my life for the priesthood or for medicine. I needed help clarifying me thoughts. Towards the end of the seven days of retreat, with the help of the priests and the seminarians, I petitioned the seminary to be accepted as a seminarian. The last day of the retreat, I remember as a very special day, in the presence of my parents and family, I received the news of my acceptance to enter the Seminary of Guadalajara. I entered on August 28, 1996. From that day, the certainty of the call from God to the ministerial priesthood has only been confirmed.
Fr. Lupe Mayorga from the diocese of Amarillo TX, originally from Guadalajara, encouraged me to consider being a priest in the United States. I visited the Diocese of Pueblo in the summer of 2007 and was accepted by Bishop Tafoya as a seminarian for our diocese.
Well, that's how God called me, like it says in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "You are my servant, whom I have chosen and have not rejected" (Isaiah 41:9). My following of this call from God has been marked by suffering, which is how God has shaped me and prepared me. He chose me from a poor family, simple and humble, to become, as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina says, “to be for the world with Jesus – The Way, The Truth and The Life – and for Him a holy priest – a perfect victim.”
Q: Explain your thoughts as you prepare for ordination.
A: My preparation started when I decided to answer the call of God and entered the seminary in Guadalajara. But it is appropriate to recognize the great gift that God has given me in allowing me this year of pastoral service as a deacon at Sacred Heart Parish in Alamosa and in the communities of St. Peter, Gunnison, Queen of All Saints Crested Butte, and St. Rose of Lima in Lake City.
Standing out for me in this time of preparation is the support and witness of Fr. Derrek Scott and Fr. Steven Murray, who not only have been, co-workers, but true friends and brothers in ministry.
I can summarize my thoughts as follows: The priest is born, grows and is made, in prayer, in the intimate relationship with the Master. As I now prepare for ordination, I am focused with greater intensity, on the Eucharist every day, on the divine office, on frequent confession, on praying the Rosary (expressing my deep love for Mary), on frequent meditation of the Word of God, and on the constant effort to live a life of charity, which each time strengthens and grows my priestly identity. Every day in my prayers I ask the Eternal Father, grant me the grace to be faithful and obedient to His will, expressed in obedience to our bishop, and a deep love for His Church.
I am convinced, from my experience with the Servants of Suffering, that "in obedience is built the Life of Christ in us" and "Whoever is simple, loves God and makes the love of God present to others" (Fr. Pierino Galeone).
Q: What do you most look forward to as a priest in the Diocese of Pueblo?
A: In the words of Padre Pio, it is “only necessary, to love, to love, to love, and nothing more." I hope to be a good son, brother and father: A good son because I want to always be obedient to God, the bishop and the church; a good brother, by sharing my life with my brother priests, living in priestly fraternity; and a good father, because my greatest desire is to guide people to God, and winning souls for God through prayer and witness. And most especially, to be "The Way, the Truth and the Life, a Holy Priest, and a perfect victim" (Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina).