Please join Bishop John Noonan for Ordination to the Priesthood, Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, 8300 Vineland Ave., Orlando. All are welcome either in person or via livestream on the Diocese of Orlando Facebook page and YouTube channel. Below is a brief profile of the ordinand — Transitional Deacon Edgar Serrano.
Deacon Edgar Serrano
St. Mary Parish, Rockledge
Deacon Edgar Serrano was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and baptized in the Catholic faith. At the age of nine, his family joined the Jehovah Witnesses and by age 12 he was preaching on street corners and distributing pamphlets door-to-door.
At 17, Serrano’s father died, and he began questioning his life. He left the Jehovah Witnesses and would have nothing more to do with faith for the next 20 years.
“From that moment when I separated from Jehovah Witnesses, I stopped praying totally. All my faith was diluted,” Serrano recalled. “I always felt the presence of God because I believed in God, but it was in the background. I focused on my career, my studies, teaching and doing my regular life. I didn’t have any more worries about it.”
In 1999, Serrano moved to Titusville. He worked and attended English as a second language classes at local churches. While the classes had him physically return to church, it wasn’t until a family tragedy occurred during a trip to Japan that Serrano would return to church spiritually.
“In that moment, I don’t remember if I started praying or not, but I just turned my body and there was a church behind me — St. Joseph Church. I went to the church and, unexpectedly, it was a Catholic church. I just went to that place for prayer because I was in need of prayer. That’s how it started again, my connection to God.”
Serrano recalled asking for forgiveness for the years of being absent from his faith and feeling an overwhelming sense of the love of God. It was a moment of profound conversion, where he decided to give the rest of his life in service to God. When he returned home, he attended St. Mary Parish in Rockledge and learned all he could about the Catholic faith.
As Serrano became more involved with the Spanish-speaking community at his parish, he noticed the needs of the immigrant population. Soon, he was speaking with embassies, asking for help from different foundations, and holding meetings to educate people on the immigration process and life in America. It was during this time that people began to ask if he ever considered the priesthood. When he would reply that he was too old, he was encouraged to look into becoming a permanent deacon.
“I was fine until my new pastor came, Father Ivan Olmo. He said, ‘You are in permanent deacon formation? We need to talk.’ He became my spiritual director. I knew that my life was totally over after that,” said Serrano with a laugh.
Father Olmo, himself a later vocation to the priesthood, asked Serrano if he wanted to be a priest. Serrano gave him all the reasons why it wasn’t possible: he was too old, he didn’t have enough education, he wasn’t worthy. Father Olmo simply replied, “Do you want it or don’t you?”
Before he knew it, Serrano was fulfilling the promise he made to God those many years ago, to give his life totally to God’s service. At 50 years old, with Father Olmo’s help, he was accepted into Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. After four years of study and formation, Serrano will soon be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Orlando.
“I feel overjoyed. Now it’s time to get back to the people,” said Serrano, who has missed interacting with a community while at seminary.
Looking back, Serrano can see God’s presence in his life, even during those years he lived without faith. Though his age once seemed a stumbling block to his vocation, he can now see God’s perfect timing and he encourages others not to fight God’s call in their lives.
“Look at the apostles. They were not young. They were already adults with families, with careers. There’s always an opportunity to be with God totally. All of us, we have a call in one way or another, but some of us fight with that call and I was one of them,” said Serrano. “If you feel that God is calling you to be a priest, just say yes and He will confirm that that is the call for you. If God wants it, He will do it for you.”
By Elizabeth Wilson, Special to the Florida Catholic, May 04, 2023