Keeping the faith in a secular world

Alister Castillo, 26, is about to become ordained as a Deacon, a minister of the Catholic church.

For the last six and a half years Castillo lived at the Holy Cross College in Auckland, the national Roman Catholic seminary for the training of priests.

On September 23 he will commit to a life of religious service.

“I have had the last six and a half years to decide whether this is the right thing. There has never been any pressure put on me and it would have been fine if I had decided against it,” Castillo said.

“But this is what I am meant to be doing.”

Raised in the church, Castillo’s faith had always been important to him, but in his first year of university something changed.

“I started to get this nudge. I had this nagging feeling all the time. It’s like when your parents tell you to do something but you keep ignoring it. It was like that except the message was coming from somewhere else.”

After a number of long discussions with priests, friends and family Castillo made the move to Auckland. He recognised the choice baffled some, especially when it came to the prospect of marriage and children.

“I won’t be able to have kids or be in a romantic relationship. But when I was doing my placement I met so many people who opened their lives and homes to me.

“There are certain types of relationships I won’t be able to have. But there are so many that I still can. It just means I can commit all my love to those relationships.

“And I’m still just a normal person. I live here with a few other guys and we still do  normal things. We go to the movies, we have a few drinks occasionally, we play soccer every Friday.

When asked about the falling numbers of young religious people and the relevance of the church today Castillo said he believed it was as necessary as ever.

“When you look around the world today it’s constantly changing. That can be pretty scary. Religion and faith offers an unchanging foundation to stand on.

“For me it realigns everything I do. I live with Christ at the centre. And that makes me a better person.” Continue reading

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