ROCKFORD—Transitional deacon Jhonatan Sarmiento will be ordained a priest of the Rockford Diocese by Bishop David Malloy on June 2 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, here.
Rev. Mr. Sarmiento was born in Cucuta, Colombia, where his parents and siblings still live. He is the oldest of five children.
Growing up in a Catholic family and culture, he learned about Jesus and the Catholic faith. Most of his education took place in the Catholic school system. He was an altar boy at his home parish, St. Anthony of Padua.
Upon high school graduation he entered the religious order of the Carmelites, where he completed two years of formation.
After discernment, he separated from the Carmelites and began thinking more about the diocesan priesthood. A priest friend from Colombia was serving in a mission in Illinois. He knew some dioceses needed help with bilingual parishes. “He talked to me and said, ‘Hey you can be a missionary here; you have to learn the language; you can be helpful,’” Rev. Mr. Sarmiento says, “So, I gave it to God,” and he told his friend to talk with the Rockford Diocese vocation director, who at the time was Father Michael Lavin.
After speaking with Father Lavin and with Father William Vallejo, he was invited to come and see what he thought.
He arrived in the United States in the summer of 2009, and was sent to St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., to begin English language and philosophy studies. He also spent three years at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Nebraska.
In 2014, he began theological formation at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.
“It has been nine years,” Rev. Mr. Sarmiento says, enough “time to have some roots and call it my home. I say it is God’s providence. “Many people, many priests, make me feel like one of them, make me feel like this is home.”
Reflecting on his upcoming ordination, Rev. Mr. Sarmiento says, “I am just praying to God: ‘I have confidence that you are going to make me an instrument in many ways. “ ‘I’m looking forward to being a witness to the miracles and to the amazing things you are going to do in people’s lives,’ ” he continues.
“My plan is just to be open to the Lord, and to trust Him in every moment and in every place He wants me to be. I’m preparing to be sent out. It comes with sadness. It comes with joy.” He concludes his thoughts with a simple prayer: “You called me. Now I’m going.”