FrancisCorps Vol. Receives Sacraments of Initiation

IMG_2711Cajina Johanna Castillo, a volunteer member of FrancisCorps (FC17), serving with our friars in Costa Rica, received the sacraments of Confirmation & 1st Eucharist, on May 29, 2016 – the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in the chapel of the Convento Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, (Our Lady of the Assumption Friary) in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
It was an emotional celebration for the community of Friars Minor Conventual of Alajuela, filled with rejoicing because “the Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad” (Ps 126) as our sister Johanna professed her faith in the Catholic Church and received these Sacraments of Initiation. Fr. Marco Umaña Juárez, OFM Conv., guardian of the friary, was delegated by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alajuela to administer the sacraments.
Johanna was originally baptized in the Pentecostal Christian church. She was born in Managua, Nicaragua, but resides in Silver Spring, Maryland where she was introduced to FrancisCorps, one of the many ministries of our province, through the work of Friar Jim Moore, OFM Conv. She arrived in Costa Rica on August 26, 2015 as part of the program’s FC17 Class. She had spent time reflecting on the Catholic faith, through her courses in theology and her participation in some liturgical celebrations during her college years. Johanna says she will never forget the words of St. Anselm of Canterbury, “
For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe-that unless I believe I shall not understand.It was very surprising for her to realize that the liturgy and each of the parts of the Eucharistic celebration, are rooted in Scripture. Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8)
Already in Costa Rica, the  community life of the FrancisCorps program was key to her discernment of God’s calling and how she should respond to that call. Thus she decided to speak with Friar Juan de Dios Martínez, OFM Conv. and Fr. Marco Umaña Juárez, OFM Conv. to initiate the Catechitical process. Johanna had always felt support and companionship in their discernment process. Her sisters – Brady, Caroline and Erin – challenged her every day to hear the voice of God and follow His will. Our friars helped her to clarify through their motivations and life charism, to embolden her with their prayers and words of fraternal encouragement, complicit in the Spirit.
When asked, “How do you feel now that this step means that reaches its climax this Sunday?” Johanna responded, “Thankful to God because I have seen people used as His instruments in my life, and through signs, He has shown me that I was on the right track for conversion. Gradually, God has taught me the meaning of being Catholic and how I can continue looking for Him through our Faith. I have always felt His presence and His hand with me. I am grateful to my community FC17, my teachers, friends and the friars. This is a very special day, I get to receive my sacraments here, where it all began, because it was in this friary chapel that I participated for the first time in a Mass. Even without being Catholic, I was still asked to do a Reading for the Mass. Today, in that same chapel, I received the sacraments. How can we not see that everything has always been God’s plan?
(Submitted by Friar
Henry Ramírez Vargas, OFM Conv.)


The current FrancisCorps Volunteers (FC17) and the friars of Convento Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Alajuela, Costa Rica