By Patricia O’Connell
Father Daniel Eduardo Moreno Jimenez grew up in the strong Catholic culture of Medellin, Colombia.
He spent five years as an altar server, and he often attended Mass during the week with his grandmother, who was very devout.
Thanks to her example, he recalled, “I was so close to the Church.”
However, this good formation, in his childhood, didn’t prevent him from straying.
During high school, he admitted, his Mass attendance wasn’t regular.
“I wasn’t that faithful with Mass,” he said. “They offered Mass and I skipped Mass. During Mass I used to go to the field and play hockey with my friends.”
As a boy, Father Moreno did want to become a priest. So his parents prepared to send him to a minor seminary for high school. But, as the time approached, he balked at the idea.
“I was just kidding,” he told them, referring to his potential vocation. “I didn’t want to be a priest,” he insisted.
He attended the Tecnico Industrial Pascual High School in Medellin. As his graduation approached, the thought of entering the priesthood once again appealed to him.
However, at this point, his parents were very surprised at his plans to enroll in the seminary. He had already been accepted in a technical program at another university.
Unbeknownst to his parents, he had also been going to meetings designed for men in the discernment process. “I kept going to the meetings,” he said. “I never told my parents. I was doing that secretly.”
So, instead of pursuing a career in electronics, he entered the seminary.
Although his vocation didn’t take a straight path, Father Moreno said it was part of God’s plan.
“He calls whenever He wants and however he wants,” he stated.
Father Moreno spent five years studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Medellin. However, in 2006, a priest friend serving in Trenton, New Jersey extend an invitation for him to travel north.
At the time, though, Father Moreno didn’t want to come to the United States. “I wasn’t sure about leaving the country at that time,” he said. “I rejected the offer.”
However, later in his seminary studies, Father Moreno felt a pull to step out of his comfort zone and “experience the Church outside the country.”
The priest from Trenton knew Worcester diocesan priest Father Edwin Gomez. Colombian-born Father Gomez has served as a contact for many of the Colombian priests now serving here.
While still in Colombia, Father Morena met Father Gomez, along with diocesan Vocations Director Father James Mazzone, who had traveled to Medellin to meet some of the men who’d expressed an interest in serving in Worcester.
“I was so willing to experience the Church outside Medellin,” Father Moreno remembered. “I was so very sure.”
Next, he told his parents about his plans. Although they weren’t happy he’d be leaving, Father Moreno said they respected his decision.
Recently, his parents, along with one of his sisters, and two of his friends traveled to Worcester to attend Father Moreno’s ordination to the priesthood on June 20. His grandmother, unfortunately, couldn’t make the trip due to old age.
Speaking to a reporter a few weeks before his ordination, Father Moreno said was very excited about becoming a priest.
Referring to some of the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Father Moreno said, “Do not be afraid about answering God’s call because he doesn’t take anything away. He gives everything we need and at the proper time. This is a beautiful life.”