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Little devils in the mountains

First slide

The Swiss town of Les Diablerets gets its name from its devilish thunders and dangerous landslides. With a name that means the abode of little devils in French, the Alpine village is renowned for both its natural beauty and dangerous winters. In the summer of 2019, it served as the destination of a weeklong scientific conference I had helped organize.

I hoped the conference would help distinguish me from among other young engineers in my area of expertise. It was filled with remarkable presentations of the best and latest. The talks inspired ideas for my own research back at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, where I worked. During breaks in the program, I hiked trails in the mountains, swam in glacial lakes and biked the steep roads of the valley. One evening, I had a thought: Why am I giving this up? I can continue to do this and someday, perhaps, be numbered among the elite in my research field. Why give this up at all?

By then, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge had called. He had accepted me into formation as a seminarian of the diocese, and I would be joining the men at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., that fall. I would be a student again, among seminarians nearly a decade younger than me. I would have to resign my job and depend on the generosity of the diocese. Though I was truly excited to become a seminarian, the sudden contrast of what I was giving up was sharp. In Les Diablerets, an assault of my own little devils of doubt began.

For many years I had ignored God’s gentle whisper to consider the priesthood. As a Peruvian immigrant and the oldest in my family, was determined to have a successful career in mechanical engineering and make my family proud. And proud they were. The sacrifices and labors of our modest beginnings had yielded fruit to a well-educated generation and the first Ph.D. in our family. I was blessed and truly enjoyed my work; it was intellectually challenging and satisfying. I melded well with my team and they supported me. Yet, it was not enough. God had allowed me to accomplish many good things while growing a thirst for him and his church through the sacraments. I had to answer his call.

That summer I made the hardest choice I’d ever faced and quit my job. A year later, I have no regrets. Long hours in the laboratory have given way to quiet hours in prayer at the chapel. I get to study the faith in depths I jealously watched others do before. I get to be a brother to some of the most virtuous men I know. I get to teach children about the sacraments, visit the homebound and offer them Jesus in the Eucharist. Even during quarantine, I have been privileged with daily access to Mass and the Eucharist 

Most importantly, I have accepted that it is not what I do but who I am: a beloved son of the Father, and maybe a priest someday, that gives me the greatest satisfaction. Although my discernment continues, I have no regrets. The little devils at Les Diablerets are only a distant memory.

Tuesta, who is from St. Louis Church in Alexandria, is in his second year of pre-theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020