As we mark Citizenship Week, CLINIC celebrates the energy that new citizens like Fr. Gustavo Adolfo Montañez bring to our communities.
I believe that dreams come true and that a good dream becomes true life. Without dreams, all we have is reality. Sometimes on our most important dreams, all we can do is give them our best shot, hope for the highest good, and let go. Knowing I could use all the help available, I contacted CLINIC to fulfill my dream in becoming a Citizen of United States of America.
My name is Fr. Gustavo Adolfo Montañez and this is my story. My dream started when I was living in my birth country, Colombia. After I finished my bachelors degree in Business Administration, I wanted to study Theology and learn English as a second language. It is what brought me to the United States of America. I made my dream up.
I am passionate about preaching to people and being a Catholic priest. I am grateful to the Dominican Friars for the formation and training. Being a priest and dominican friar, I have the opportunity to preach the good news to the people of God and to preside them sacramentally. I preside at the worship and prayer in the community and minister them liturgically, according with their needs. I assist the congregation in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is a gift, a gift of my vocation, that I have been able to share with others.
CLINIC made this possible. In this process of training, formation and ministering to the people of God, I needed to be legal in the country. CLINIC helped me to get the R-1 Visa. Being in this status, I was able to interact with people with different backgrounds and education, bringing the Word of God into their lives, giving them a word of hope, faith and strength in the middle of their circumstances.
Being a deacon and a priest, CLINIC gave me a new status as Permanent Resident and recently, a Citizen of United States of America. During these years of formation and work in pastoral ministry, I have learned that a priest should never omit an opportunity for preaching. I believe that no one can constantly preach the Word of God without being transformed by the Word I preach. It is precisely in pastoral ministry and preaching that I have been touch by people lives with their joys, sufferings and struggles.
Because of this, I have a new dream. As Mother Teresa said: “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” My dream is that I want to be a Chaplain in the Armed Forces. It is in ministry working with the people of God, in the church, that I have been called to work in a specific ministry and this ministry is in the Armed Forces. It is a ministry that I want to pursue and to focus on. It is a personal ministry of presence, caring for the needs of Catholic military personnel and their families.
In order to pursue my dream, I left the Dominican Friars and asked for incardination in the Archdioceses of San Antonio. I am in this process of incardination and work in Notre Dame Catholic Church in Kerville, TX at the present time. I continue in prayer to fulfill my dream.
United States is my home and I have achieved all my dreams in this country with prayer, love, sacrifice, strength, patience, but above all with good attitude. Our attitudes and beliefs impact our thoughts and feelings, which in turn, shape our choices and decisions. Beliefs either move us forward or hold us back, but what many of us forget is that we choose what we believe.
For those who are reading my story, let me tell you these words quoting Harriet Tubman: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
To meet other foreign-born religious workers and learn more about CLINIC's Religious Immigraiton Services, click here.
For further resources to recognize New Americans and promote naturalization this Citizenship Day, click here.