God comforted me in trauma
Watching two cars hit and almost kill his 12-year-old twin brother Miguel while he ran home from school was the day Jorge Gomez experienced the power of prayer. Gomez, originally from Miami, Florida, will be ordained a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of New Orleans on May 20 at St. Louis Cathedral.
Alone at the hospital before his mother, Sayda, a housekeeper and devout Catholic, arrived, a traumatized Gomez took his mother’s advice to pray when moments in life scare him.
“I began to pray the rosary on my own for the first time,” he said. “I may have forgotten the order of the prayers, but at that moment of prayer, I had encountered an intimate peace. My fear and anxiety started to go away.”
Gomez recalled bargaining with God to save Miguel.
“I told the Lord, ‘I will do anything you want if you don’t take away my brother. If this is you interacting with me, please don’t take Miguel,’” Gomez said. “I heard a loud voice saying, ‘Come to me.’ It was so loud, and I thought it was the doctors or nurses screaming it out, but none of them were there. … It shook me. That sense of peace brought a reassurance that everything would be OK.”
Within a month, his brother fully recovered.
“God works miracles, and that was one of them,” he said.
He brought the experience to a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic parish and was told, “Jorge, it sounds like God was asking you to get to know him.” The priest handed him a youth Bible and said to start reading the Gospel of Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles.
“It was an immersion of the Word that deepened my relationship with the Lord,” he said.
Gomez then dedicated his life to the parish across the street from his house, becoming an altar server, youth minister and St. Vincent de Paul Society member. His youngest brother, Elbertt, now 18, remains an altar server.
After high school, Gomez entered St. John Seminary in Miami, but he and the faculty realized he was too young and he went to college for two years, thinking he might be a teacher or philosopher. Yet, the call to the priesthood remained.
In his quest for a diocese that needed a bilingual (Spanish/English) priest, former seminary classmate, Father Dan Darmanin, now pastor of St. Margaret Mary in Slidell, recommended that he study at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.
“I’ve been here almost seven years, and it’s been a wonderful experience,” Gomez said, “Even though it’s a big city, it really is a small town. ... People love their priests in the South, and I pray that I am able to dedicate myself to them wholeheartedly.”
Seminary formed him
Gomez is grateful for his seminary education that formed him to be “Christ the Man … who displays virtue by word and action, but also follows the Lord’s will … and cooperates with his grace.
“In seminary, you learn gradually to be that humble, kind, holy priest for the people of God because they really do deserve it.”
The seminary also encourages seminarians to be critical thinkers, using the knowledge of philosophers who help better articulate the “truths of the faith.”
Gomez also has learned liturgy by being master of ceremonies at the seminary, and he enjoys preaching, crediting the seminary’s homiletics teachers, Dominican Father Phillip Powell and Father Kurt Young.
“Their methods of preaching, the art of it and turning minds and hearts to God are wonderful,” Gomez said.
He loves sharing the tradition and communion of the saints since “we’re all called to be saints through the ordinary circumstances of our lives” and admires Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva for being “a priest who had a deep love for the Lord reflected in his life as he catechized the faithful. He was a great teacher, preacher and spiritual master.”
Since losing his mother 18 months ago at age 58, Gomez gained empathy for grieving families. He overcame her death and continued seminary studies through prayer, grace and the comfort and support of family, friends, priests and Archbishop Aymond.
“That helped me move forward,” he said. “My brothers told me my mom would want me to continue to be a Catholic priest.”
Gomez is assigned to St. Margaret Mary, his home parish that’s in need of a Spanish-speaking priest for its growing Hispanic community. His Spanish fluency will help Father Darmanin by preaching at Spanish Masses. He knows Father Darmanin will challenge him in many ways.
“I want to be a good spiritual father, always caring for the people, finding out their spiritual needs by listening to them and using different ways to bring them close to the Lord,” he said.
Gomez expects his brothers, family and friends from Miami at ordination Mass.
“The Lord has called me this far in life, and I’ll be thinking about all the people who have helped me along the way and also my mom,” Gomez said. “I hope she is watching front row and center – seeing one of her sons becoming a deacon.”