Most of our seminarians with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) come from very simple backgrounds, and we do our best to support their formation. Whether they start immediately after high school or after a few years of life experience, these seminarians prepare themselves so they will be ready to serve wherever they might be called.
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have been working in Colombia for over 50 years.Today, fewer MSC from the USA are needed to carry out the projects there because of the young Colombian men who have joined the congregation.
Because the MSC missions in Colombia are still largely dependent on the MSC USA Province for financial support, we humbly and faithfully ask that you consider supporting the formation of our MSC seminarians.Your gift benefits more than our seminarians. Every person and community touched by the ministry of these seminarians increases the impact of your gift.
In the United States we have benefited from several MSC priests from Colombia who have served our Church here. At this time, we have three Colombian MSC priests serving in the United States. Currently, there are eight MSC priests in Colombia and twelve seminarians.
One Colombian MSC serving in the United States is Father Ernesto Odilio Caicedo Ortega, who was recently appointed Pastor of St. Therese of Jesus Catholic Church in Aurora, IL.
Father Ernesto was born in Sapuyes Nariño, Colombia where he attended the Sapuyes Nariño grammar school and graduated from the Sebastian Belalcazar Nationalized High School.
According to Father Ernesto,“My home was a normal home. We never owned our own home...We didn’t have money, but we were not poor because we had the love of God in our hearts.”
In 2004, he entered the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
When asked about why he chose the MSC, he stated that he identified with their spirituality, charism, and mission. “I feel this fills my life, and I feel realized.”
He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the Minuto de Dios University in Bogotá in 2008. From August 2008 to the following year, he did his novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
He took his first religious vows on Aug. 8, 2009, and studied theology at the Javeriana Pontifical University of Bogotá from 2009 to 2013, and made his perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on Aug. 4, 2012. He was ordained a deacon in the Fontibon Cathedral on Dec. 1, 2012 and ordained to the priesthood on July 13, 2013.
“I think [my most important moment as a priest] was my ordination day because for me it was like the beginning of a new experience in my faith. I felt unworthy but at the same time very happy because I felt that my calling was becoming a reality.”
Working with different youth groups, Father Ernesto helped them recognize the love of God in their hearts and discover their vocation. When he worked with the Maria Legion group, he helped them deepen their understanding of Mary’s role in the church. For altar servers, he was helping them to understand their role and responsibilities in Mass celebrations. At nursing homes, he was accompanying patients in their solitude and listening to them.
Father Ernesto served at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish in Bogotá, first as a deacon and continuing after his ordination as a priest. He then worked as pastor at Jesucristo Obrero Parish in Bogotá, Colombia.
Father Ernesto came to the United States in January 2017, where he studied English in Chicago and Aurora while assisting with various ministries in local parishes.
I think I have impacted people's lives by my simplicity, my love for my ministry, and welcoming and listening to the people.
From the early stages of candidacy, formation for Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) center around a missionary perspective. Most of our seminarians come from very simple backgrounds, and we do our best to keep them in touch with the reality of their own families. Our hope is to form our seminarians to "smell like the sheep" as encouraged by Pope Francis.
While the seminarians spend a good portion of their day at the university, when they return home they not only need time for their studies, but also help with the cleaning and maintenance of the seminary. They wash the floors, clean the bathrooms, and help take care of the gardens. They also wash dishes every day, and on weekends they take turns preparing meals.
Their daily routine also includes times of prayer and, on certain days, formation meetings to deepen their knowledge and understanding of religious life.
Each seminarian also participates in a ministry outside of the seminary which might be teaching catechism, directing a youth group, or visiting the sick. The most important element of becoming an MSC is to experience the love of God. Only then can he take the message of love and hope to others – to love as Jesus loved.
The formation of the MSC seminarians is a long process, sometimes taking up to nine years. Some seminarians come directly after high school and others come after a few years of life experience.
From the very first year of formation they are prepared by our formation personnel to go out and give witness to the Gospel. They are encouraged to reflect on the word of God in their own lives and to share their faith experience with others. They also learn another language as part of their formation so that they will be ready to serve wherever they might be called.
Seminarians who are going to be priests study philosophy and theology fulfilling the requirements of the church for ordination, but we see the formation in community life, prayer, and service to others as highly important.
The formation of brothers in the community is a little different academically, but they share the same experiences in community life, prayer, and service.
After college, our seminarians in Colombia participate in the Latin American Novitiate, going to either Brazil or the Dominican Republic for one year of intense preparation for their initial vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Those who are going to continue in theology will go to the international MSC Theologate in El Salvador.
The total cost for each seminarian is about $10,000 a year. Because most of our seminarians come from very humble backgrounds, we do our best to support their education and formation.
By making a financial gift to support our priests and seminarians, you are helping us provide more time and dedicate more resources to serving the people of Colombia and the USA.
$50 helps cover the cost of utilities for one seminarian.
$100 helps cover the travel expenses for one seminarian.
$500 helps cover medical expenses for one seminarian.
$2,000 provides books and tuition for one seminarian for a year.
$4,500 provides food for one seminarian for a year.
Any gift, no matter how small, truly makes a difference.