Meet Our Seminarians
I’ve always had an innate desire to help people. I was never very sure to what capacity I was supposed to help, though. I thought for a while about the people who have been the most influential in my life, and a lot of priests came to mind. Ever since my family became Catholic at the Easter Vigil in 2005, my home parish, St. Catherine of Siena, became a “home away from home” for me. The same day that I became Catholic, I was able to receive my First Holy Communion, and so I have always had a deep love of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. So I would say that it was the influence of the priests I knew growing up, a love for the Eucharist, and the desire to help people that sparked my interest in the priesthood.
One summer in high school, I attended a diocesan event that was centered on discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It was at this moment that I began to recognize that the Lord might be calling me. From then on, discerning the priesthood was always in the back of my mind. It was toward the end of my senior year of high school at Fairfield Prep, and my first two years at Catholic University that the call to discern the priesthood became more clear. And that’s when I decided to apply to St. John Fisher Seminary.
Home Town:Trumbull, CT
Home Parish:St. Catherine of Siena Church, Trumbull
Ricardo Batista Comim
My name is Ricardo Batista Comim. I grew up in Jundiai, Sao Paulo in Brazil. I am an only child. I began my priestly formation at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, New Jersey in January of 2011. I graduated from philosophy in May of 2015. When the seminary of Bridgeport was erected, I was asked if I would like to be part of this new seminary to which I agreed without hesitation. So I arrived in Bridgeport in December 2015. I can say that I am very happy with the mission the Lord is giving me. I am grateful to the Lord for my Neocatechumenal community in Brazil and in Bridgeport, without these brothers and sisters my life would have no meaning. I am also grateful for my family who encourages me and supports me in this vocation. I am also grateful for the catechists that God has placed in my life: they serve as my ongoing spiritual directors. I would also like to tell all our benefactors that they can count on my prayers.
Home City:Jundiai, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Miguel Betancur Lenis
I was born in 1988 in Medellin, Colombia into a very Catholic family. I felt Jesus calling me to continue His mission on earth when I was very young.
Many years ago, I watched a wonderful movie about Don Bosco. I still remember when Don Bosco, extending an empty hand to Miguel Rua said, “Take it.” Miguel, who was a little confused, answered, “Take what?” Finally, Don Bosco explained, “It is nothing. But what I have, I give it to you.”
The saint was saying that what he had was nothing in the world’s eyes. But what he was able to give was the love of Jesus to Miguel’s heart. When the movie finished I was deeply touched; and the seed of the priestly vocation had already been sown in my heart.
It was not until High School that I realized the path God had chosen for me. One day, I heard the teacher define the word priest as “pontiff.” I really liked that definition because of its Latin root. “Pontiff” comes from the word pontis which means bridge. Suddenly, I realized that I was meant to be that bridge, a bridge between men and God. Jesus was calling me to be His instrument – to bring His love to the world and help people walk directly to His heart, the only place where we find true happiness.
Home Town:Medellin, Colombia
Home Parish:Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Danbury
James DiVasto, Jr.
I was born and raised in Stamford, CT where I lived with my parents and my two brothers. After attending Rippowam HS I went to St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH where I studied philosophy. I thought about the priesthood at the end of college so I applied to the Diocese of Bridgeport and started priestly formation as a seminarian at Theological College in Washington, DC. I decided during my second semester to leave seminary and within a couple of years I got married, and had three children, while living in the New Haven area. I worked for the Knights of Columbus for 37 years until the spring of 2018. During that last year of my employment with the Knights, several friends of mine remarked that they thought I would make a good priest. I’d always gone to daily Mass, but my prayer life deepened significantly around 2007. I became involved in the Fraternity of Communion & Liberation, which meets regularly at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, and I eventually started attending vespers and Sunday Office of Readings at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford. The idea of the priesthood had floated into my mind a couple of times since my days in seminary. After leaving the Knights I started thinking about it more seriously. My children were grown, and I was not married. I began to pray about it and was struck with a heartfelt thought: “Has Jesus always desired, but now is His time for me to accept the gift of following Him as a priest? Is this crazy?” But reflecting on this as a possibility, I felt the consoling love of Christ. So I decided to call the Vocation Director and in the fall of 2018 Bishop Caggiano accepted me into the formation program. So here I am. Thanks be to God.
Home Town:Stamford, CT
Home Parish:St. Clement of Rome Church, Stamford
I first felt the call to the priesthood when I was 9 years old, right before my First Holy Communion. It was at a Good Friday service in the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince Haiti. As I sat in church waiting for the service to commence, I began to think about the film The Passion of the Christ which I had seen the night before, and pondered: “How can I help Jesus from having to suffer like this every Good Friday or at least alleviate His sufferings?” Little did I know that the seed for the call was being planted in my heart at that very moment. After coming to America in 1997, my family joined the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. It was there that I began to learn more about the faith. Eventually, I worked there as a Data Register for sacramental records and assisted with the daily tasks of the parish office. I later became a Registered Nurse and worked on the Medicine-Stroke floor of a hospital serving a variety of patients in need of care.
Our Lord is truly patient. My discernment was a process that the Lord slowly revealed in my heart. I realized that I had to go back to the beginning, when I first met Him in that Cathedral on Good Friday. I knew I wanted to serve God’s people in some way, so working in the hospital and being with people during their hardest times seemed like a great way to achieve this – but it wasn’t enough. I still felt something missing, and that there was more to life as I encountered many cases in my nursing career that really caused me to reflect. While I served Mass at St. John’s I felt so close to Christ and many times wondered, “Could the Lord possibly be calling me to the priesthood?”
In medicine, there is care for the body, and it has a therapeutic effect on some of those patients. As for the soul, there is only one doctor who can truly care for it and heal it – He is Jesus Christ, Our Lord. In my discernment, I realized that Christ was raising the bar and standard for my own life. He not only wanted me to be His hands and feet in order to touch and heal His people, but to be the divine author of my life and to allow Him to take control, and to shape me into the servant and shepherd for His kingdom on earth.
Seminary is the place to come and spend time with God in prayer, and with the Church evaluating the workings of God in the souls of men who wish to give their lives to Christ in totality for His glory. I am glad for having said yes to the call. Lord willing, I look forward to being an instrument of His work for the salvation of souls as a priest.
Home Town:Norwalk, CT
Home Parish:Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford
I attribute my vocation mostly to my involvement in my home parish of St. Ann in Bridgeport. My family’s home is located two houses away from the parish. I started feeling called to the priesthood around fourth grade. The good example of the parish priest was important in my discernment. I remember thinking I wanted to be like him, especially by attending Mass and serving Mass, and seeing how prayerful he was. Every time I would go to the church before Mass I would see him praying the Liturgy of the Hours before hearing confessions and celebrating the Mass.
As I grew older my brother and I shared the responsibility of being Sacristan for the parish, which made me even more involved in the sacramental life of the parish and seeing more of what the priest is. From that young age the thought of the priesthood never left my mind, always stuck with me. As a priest of Jesus Christ I want to be the one to deliver the saving sacraments to the people of the Church.
My experience at St. John Fisher Seminary has been helpful in my serious and prayerful consideration of the priesthood. It has shown me how vital prayer is in figuring out your vocation and even more in the life of a priest. One thing I like a lot about the seminary is the fraternity. It’s encouraging to be in a house with other men who are there for the same reason – to discern and be formed for priesthood. What I am looking forward to most as a priest, God willing, is being the one who can be Christ for people, especially through the sacraments.
Home Town:Bridgeport, CT
Home Parish:St. Ann Church, Bridgeport
The Church has always been central to my life. From very early on, God called me to serve Him in the liturgy, both as an altar boy and as a lector. Fr. Martin, the coordinator of the altar boys, told me to “Pray hard. Study hard. Play hard.” I have lived by those words throughout my life, and God has blessed me with a great family life, a rich educational background, a strong sense of prayerfulness, and wonderful life experiences.
Though I had the opportunity to study Law and work as a teacher for many years, I recognize that God has been patiently calling me to the priesthood for some time. With the strengthening of the call over the past year, it suddenly became clear to me that it was time to finally answer. The Lord is forever at my side, and through Him all things are made possible. I look forward to a fruitful seminary experience and, God willing, someday serve God and the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport as a priest.
Home Town:Orange, CT
Home Parish:St. Michael the Archangel, Derby
Matheus de Araujo Seixas
My name is Matheus de Araujo Seixas. I come from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I am the oldest son of Manoel and Regina de Araujo Seixas, and the firstborn of the three brothers and two sisters: Me, Tiago, Pedro, Maria Clara, and Isabel. I am studying philosophy and arrived at JFK Airport the 10th of January 2016. I have been blessed to have a Neocatechumenal community who supports me in this time in the seminary. Giving me spiritual guidance above all, this community has been for me my second family where I am experiencing a maturation in faith. I am grateful to God for the history He has blessed me and my family with, for being born in a Christian family, for having the gift of being in the seminary, for the community that God has given to me, and for all the benefactors that work for the sake of evangelization in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Thank you all who support us in any way. You can count on my prayers.
Home Town:Sao Paulo, Brazil
My name is David Klein, and I grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, with my parents and four other siblings. My father is from Bridgeport, Connecticut and my mother is from Italy. I am the second oldest child and the firstborn son. I arrived at the seminary on September 18, 2015. My Neocatechumenal community is extremely important to me because they are the backbone of my journey to faith. The community that I belong to in St. Margaret’s Church in Bridgeport is made up of people from all over the world, young and old, poor and rich. I am extremely grateful to the community that the Lord has given to me because it has helped to expose and break the old man within me. In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball, doing exercise, walking in nature, and reading books. I am most grateful first for my community and for the gift of the Neocatechumenal Way in my life, which has brought me to the presence of the Lord. I am grateful for the seminary that is forming me into a Christian man and has helped me to recognize who I truly am, and to see the immensity of the love the Lord has for me in my weaknesses.
Home Town:Trumbull, CT
Sebastian Sanmiguel Lopez
My name is Sebastian Sanmiguel Lopez, and I was born on January 3, 1987. I am from Pereira, Risaraida, Colombia. I am the only child from my mother and I have two siblings from my father’s side of the family. I arrived at the seminary on May 27, 2017. At the present moment, I am studying philosophy. In my Neocatechumenal community, I am able to experience the person of Christ resurrected through the witness of the brothers, with their lives and with my own. I have been able to witness such communion amidst people that are so different from each other and seeing how the Lord has acted in the sufferings of each one. In my community, I have been able to experience true liberty, where I don’t have to pretend to be something I am not or to have a mask. In my spare time, I like to play sports especially soccer. I also ask the Lord to grant me humility and to never forget what he has done in my life.
Home Town:Pereira, Colombia
My initial calling to the priesthood began at around 8 years old. Having been raised in a Catholic family set the foundation of my faith. As we attended Mass regularly and attended adoration, I received a better understanding of what it means to live a good christian life. Since we got involved more in our Parish, St. Peter Church, we came across the Missionaries of Charity who had a community right across the street from the church. When they started a bible camp and after school program, my siblings and I were among the first to participate in it. As I further developed an understanding of my Catholic faith with the MC sisters, I fell in love with the gift of the Eucharist. Realizing the significance of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Jesus Christ was astounding. Knowing that I would witness this every time I went to Mass was overwhelming. That is when I noticed the vital role priest have in the church. Not only do they serve as a guides to the faithful in living out the commandments, but they also bring the spiritual sustenance, instituted by Christ Himself, that we need to have eternal life.
Even though the thought of becoming a priest faded when growing up, it resurfaced as I continued to participate in my parish and attend diocesan events. With the encouragement of the religious sisters I worked with and my parents, I finally had the guts to submit an application. Although, my journey in deciding to join seminary took awhile, God has been patiently waiting. With the help of our Blessed Mother, I hope to continue serving others in the way Christ does. Hopefully one day, even serving them as a priest!
Home Town:Bridgeport, CT
Home Parish:St. Peter Church, Bridgeport
My name is Thomas Cruz. I grew up in New London, Connecticut. I come from a family of nine; I am the fifth of seven siblings, six boys, one girl. My parents are both from El Salvador. I arrived at the seminary on March 19, 2017, and I am currently studying philosophy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. My Neocatechumenal community is like a second family to me: they accompany me on this journey of faith, and they help me to mature spiritually. In my free time, I like to cut hair, play basketball, and play guitar. I am grateful to God for bringing me to the seminary at such a young age. I am also grateful for being close to home, and to the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way and to my catechists for their guidance. And because of the prayers and support of my family and communities, the Lord gives me the grace to continue my formation in the seminary.
Home Town:New London, CT
My name is Juan Enrique Cruz and I was born on August 2, 1997. I arrived in the seminary on September 25, 2018. I am the eldest of 3 children and grew up in Waxahachie, Texas. My parents, Jose Martin and Laura, are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico and my siblings, Alan Martin, and Nayeli were raised in Texas. The Neocatechumenal Way and my community have been an essential part of life and I am forever grateful to the Lord for giving me this tremendous gift. Through the Way, I have been able to see the Lord’s presence through my sufferings and my joys. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, and playing guitar. I want to thank the benefactors and individuals who have helped the seminary, you can count on my prayers.
Home Town:Waxahachie, TX
Juan Jose Escobar Borda
My name is Juan Jose Escobar Borda. My family is composed of my two parents, my grandmother, my eight siblings, one niece, and my dog. I am the third of nine. I am from Medellin, Colombia. I arrived at the seminary on May 29, 2017. I finished my academics on November 25, 2016. My Neocatechumenal community is very important to me because I know I can trust in the brothers, they give me a lot of courage and confidence to share all of my difficulties with them. I like to play soccer and guitar. I am very grateful to God for the family he has given me, for my community and for the opportunity He has given me to enter the seminary at such a young age.
Home Town:Medellin, Colombia
My name is Teitati Barairai. I am from the island of Tarawa in the Republic Kiribati (Gilbert Islands, South Pacific Ocean). I am the third child of a family of four and I have two brothers and one sister. Before coming to the seminary, I was helping teach pre-school children in my sector in my village of Bikenibeu. I completed my studies at Kiribati Pastoral Institute in 2016 and I arrived at the seminary on December 5, 2017. At this moment, I am studying English at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. I like fishing and playing the guitar. I am so grateful to the Lord for having me in the seminary to see his love through the brothers and sisters in my Neocatechumenal community. This community is like the second family for me for their support and prayers for my vocation and also for accompanying me all the way through this mission.
Home Town:Tarawa, Republic Kiribati