The goal is heaven

May 3, 2023
Chrism Mass celebrated April 3, 2023 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Bishop John Noonan also recognized jubilarians reaching their 25th, 50th, and 60th anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

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 Ángel García.

Deacon Ángel García
Holy Redeemer Parish, Kissimmee

In 2013, Deacon Ángel García was at a crossroads in his life. Accepted to Valencia College, he started to feel a strong call to the priesthood. Torn between the two different paths, he left the decision in the hands of God, praying, “Lord, if you want me to go to seminary, you’ll have to block my way to college.”

Weeks later, he received a call from Valencia saying there was a problem with his high school transcripts. When he called his high school, he ran into another problem: his transcripts were missing.

“I thought, ‘How can you lose someone’s paperwork?’ but then I remembered the prayer I had said,” García recalled. “I said, ‘Okay Lord, I think you did your part. Now it’s my turn.”

He contacted Father Jorge Torres, who was the vocations director at that time, and was immediately connected with a discernment group that was meeting the next day and joined them on a visit to the seminary the very next week. In early 2014, García decided to apply to the seminary. There was just one problem; the application required his high school transcripts.

“I contacted my high school for the transcripts and this time the paperwork came with no problem,” García recalled. “I took that as a sign from God.”

García’s journey to the priesthood began in his home of Trujillo Alto in Puerto Rico where he grew up with his mother’s side of the family. As a teen, he felt bored at Mass and started attending other Christian churches with his friends. But when it came time for the Sacrament of Confirmation, he realized there was something different about the Catholic Church.

“There was something missing whenever I would go to all the other non-Catholic churches,” García said. “It was beautiful, and the music was beautiful, but there was always something missing. I realized it was the Eucharist. The Eucharist brought me back to the Catholic faith.”

Now, in the final weeks before Ordination to the Priesthood, García is most excited to be able to celebrate Mass and share the gift of the Eucharist with others.

“Being able to feed the people Jesus, that’s one of the things that I look forward to the most,” he reflected. “I’ll be able to, in a very tangible way, give them Jesus, and they go home with Jesus in them.”

Sharing Jesus with others is important to García. If there is one message he hopes to impart during his priesthood, it’s to tell people how much Jesus loves them.

“My role as priest is to be that father who loves the people and through my love for them, they can see the love of Jesus. I can bring them to Jesus, and they fall in love with Him. If I can do that with at least one person, I think I’ve done my job.”

As Ordination quickly approaches, García feels predominately joyful, mixed with some nerves, and sadness to be leaving his family at the seminary. He says it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but luckily for García, he enjoys rollercoasters – the taller and faster, the better.

“I think that’s something that shocks people, to know how normal we are, that we have fun,” said García, who also enjoys kayaking, dancing, time in nature, and a good meal with friends. “That’s part of who I am, and I cannot deny who I am because God called me the way I am, with my own strengths and weaknesses. He sees in me this talent that I have, my own personality.”

For the last nine years, García has been intensely preparing for priesthood, and now at the end of this process, he has come to realize that Ordination is not the end goal, it is just one part of a much longer journey.

“Sometimes, we might have this idea in seminary that the goal is to get ordained, but I know that’s not the goal. The goal is to get to heaven. Not only to get to heaven, but as a shepherd, how many people am I bringing to heaven? How many souls am I bringing to heaven? I know that’s the goal,” García said.

Deacon Ángel García

By Elizabeth Wilson, Special to the Florida Catholic, May 04, 2023