2016 — Pre-Theology
José Guillermo Caballero Andrade
Studying at St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Dear Parishioners at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish:
My name is José Guillermo Caballero Andrade. I was born in Ibague, a lovely city in Tolima, Colombia. My parents are Juan Caballero and Rubiela Andrade. I am one of three brothers.
When I was in the middle of my college studies (foreign languages and international business) at the University of Tolima, I had a personal encounter with the Lord. When I think about this experience, I like to compare myself with St. Paul on his way to Damascus. Although I wasn’t persecuting Christians like him, I wasn’t a devoted Catholic person. After this experience, which turned my life 180 degrees, I started to think about living a consecrated life. I still cannot remove this feeling from my heart.
After this personal encounter with the Lord, I asked for advice. I went to the Holy Spirit Parish in Ibague, and I talked with a priest who told me that I should finish my studies. He said that during this study time I could clarify my thoughts. Later on, in my last year of college, Father Jose Yoban Lozano told me that I should apply to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Little Rock. So, I said: “Why not?” I talked with Msgr. Scott Friend, and after some interviews, I was accepted.
Taking advantage of my English knowledge, I worked as an English teacher for several months. But I was not feeling satisfied. So, I thought, “It is good to be an English teacher, but this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life”. Now I see this experience as a good preview of what a priest is -- someone who teaches the divine doctrine.
Another experience that has marked my journey was being a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I was a member of the youth ministry group called “Jesús y María” (Jesus and Mary). Sometimes I like to think that the Lord only needs an open heart to do great things. And I say this because in just a few months I was playing the guitar and I was singing in this ministry. I only touched a guitar a couple of times in high school and that is it. Those days in that ministry were a blessing. During my service in the music ministry, I participated in a national youth congress being the first guitar. I was even singing!
Now I am studying at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. It is a wonderful place. It is located in a rural area. For more information about this seminary, you can acces www.saintmeinrad.edu. This summer I will be attending a retreat called IPF (Institute for Priestly Formation) in Nebraska. Hopefully I will have the chance to visit you a couple of days.
I would like to thank all the people who are supporting and praying for me. I am humbled, flattered and blessed because of this. May the Lord bless us. Amen.