Spanish Program Prepares New Priest for Mexico Assignment
In the summer of 2016, Fr. Matthew Vierno, at that time a deacon at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, participated in the newly-established St. Junipero Serra Institute at the FSSP apostolate in Guadalajara, Mexico. Now, after his recent ordination in May, Fr. Vierno is headed to Mexico once again, this time as parochial vicar. We checked in with Fr. Vierno, who spoke about the road to his priestly vocation, his time at the St. Junipero Serra Institute and his thoughts as he looks forward to his new assignment.
by Fr. Matthew Vierno, F.S.S.P.
My name is Father Matthew Vierno, a recently ordained priest in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I was recently appointed the parochial vicar of our Fraternity’s parish in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Ten years ago I would not have guessed that I would be a priest at all, nor did I ever imagine that I would ever live in a Spanish speaking country. I did realize my vocation as a teenager, and committed myself to pursue it without hesitation. Nevertheless, until three years ago I had no knowledge of the Spanish language. My background is not Hispanic, and the languages I studied in school were limited to Latin and French. In my fifth year of seminary, however, I determined to learn Spanish on my own, convinced that it is the most important second language for any priest working in the United States.
After studying as much as possible, I was granted permission to do apostolic work in Guadalajara during the summer of 2015. My Spanish advanced quickly that summer, and I returned in the winter to continue. For the Holy Week of 2016 I was sent to Mexico City and finally began preaching in Spanish.
Although I was able to comfortably speak Spanish after my few trips to Mexico, there was still much to be desired in my mastery of grammar. The proper use of the subjunctive, the conditional tenses, and many other fine points were still lacking. Although my self-study and immersion were extremely helpful and put me at a decent conversational level, I needed skilled mentors if I wanted to improve. For this reason I applied for admission to the Fray Junipero Serra Spanish Institute which was just opened in the summer of 2016. This Institute gives seminarians and priests not only the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture, but also the help of professional tutors. There are 3 levels of classes depending on the proficiency of the student. The Institute also provides the students with lectures on Hispanic culture, with many opportunities to put it all into practice with activities ranging from trips to a coffee shop to door-to-door missionary work.
I am very grateful to all those who work tirelessly to make this Spanish Institute a success every year, and am especially thankful for the hard work the teachers have done and continue to do for me. I look forward to my priestly mission across the border, and am ready to put my Spanish into use.
July 18, 2017