On a clear, sunny May 28, surrounded by many of his Marian brothers from across the United States, Deacon James was raised to the sacred order of the priesthood as a Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception, consecrating his entire heart, soul and life to the Lord. "This is a great blessing to our family and to our community," said Father James' father, Oscar, as he reflected on all the people who came to celebrate his son's priestly ordination at his hometown parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, in Rowland Heights."Before James was born,” he added, “I asked Jesus to give me a son, and that if He granted my prayer I would offer Him back to Jesus. While my wife was still pregnant with James, I also prayed to the Blessed Mother, begging that if I had a son, my son would become a priest."This theme of being called by God to serve Him as a priest was woven throughout the Liturgy. The first reading of the Mass for ordination was from Jeremiah (1:4-9), which begins, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you ..." Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Solis, the ordaining prelate, echoed the divine nature of the call to the priesthood in his homily. "You do not call yourself. You do not elevate yourself. This is not a coronation,” he stated. “You are answering the call to follow Christ, to act in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. But do not be afraid."Bishop Solis reminded Father Cervantes — in the midst of his labors for the people of God — to remember he is not alone. "Stay close to your brother priests who can support you." In addition to the support of his fellow Marians, another critical component to Father Cervantes’ formation — and the mission of the Marians in general — is the prayerful and financial support given by Marian Helpers. Their encouragement has helped Father James to persevere in his vocation and his work. In a particularly touching moment, Father Cervantes presented his mother Yolanda with the towel used to wipe the oil from his hands after the bishop anointed him. Traditionally, that towel is placed in the hands of the priest's mother upon her burial, signifying that she is the mother of a priest. Choking back tears, Oscar Cervantes said, "[Getting the towel] really touched us."When asked what her son’s vocation as a Marian priest meant to the family, Yolanda said it was meant to be: "God called him to be a missionary of Divine Mercy."In light of the missionary work that the Marian Fathers are doing in the Philippines and the way that the Divine Mercy message and devotion has taken root there, Father Cervantes’ parents see the great contribution he can make when he returns there as a priest.Now that Father Cervantes is indeed a priest and his parents' long-awaited prayers are answered, they have a new prayer for their son. Said Oscar Cervantes, smiling, "We pray that James will be a holy priest."After being ordained, Father Cervantes imparted his first priestly blessing upon Bishop Solis. Then, he blessed his parents. Later, he reminisced how his father always blessed him and his brother before they went to school in the morning and before they went to bed at night. "Now,” he said, “I get to bless my father, as a Father."The following day, May 29, Father Cervantes celebrated his first Mass as a priest. In his homily, Marian Father Dan Cambra, provincial superior, talked about the two most influential elements to Father Cervantes’ upbringing: his family and his parish."Father James' task was in his heart from his earliest days,” he said. “He had what every priest needs: love. His family experience was rooted in Christ — that we are loved by Christ." Father Cambra also thanked Father Cervantes’ “two families”: his parish family who supported and encouraged his vocation by helping him grow in his faith; and his Marian family, who, in a sense, received his vocation."Father James, God loves you. In love you were created. He gave you your family, your parish family, and your Marian family. May you grow in the love that He has begun in you."Father Cambra encouraged the new priest to be a witness to the people of God. "Be who you are — a priest of peace,” he said. “And remember that every day people are observing you. You are a walking billboard. By your example you will call others to the priesthood, to sanctity, to marriage, to sacrifice. And may God bless you today, and bless us through you." For information, write to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Eden Hill, Stockbridge, MA 01263, or visit http://thedivinemercy.org/.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0624/cervantes/{/gallery}