My name is Father Rafael de Araújo, I am 32 years old, from Brasilia, and I am a missionary of the Shalom Catholic Community. Currently I live in Aquiraz, in the Government of the Shalom Community, General Deaconry. With gratitude, I share with you a little of my life on this path to the priesthood.
I was born in a Catholic family, I always participated in Sunday masses, catechesis and youth groups. In 2001, at the age of thirteen, I made my first youth retreat. I began to serve at the altar as an altar boy, and this brought me closer to the sacred. In 2003, when I was fifteen, I had a strong experience with the Eucharist, when I was asked if I felt nothing while serving Jesus at the altar, having the Eucharist so close to me. At the time, I answered no, but at the following Holy Mass, still as an altar boy, I was taken by a great passion for the Eucharist and altar service, which I don’t know how to explain.
The following year, in the Confirmation class, I had a new experience with the Word of God, with a desire to read it not only out of obligation, but to let it enter my heart and realize its transforming power. In 2007, after so many falls and reconciliations in Christian life, during the Renascer (Carnival Retreat of the Shalom Community), in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I was visited by God in such a strong way, that I felt God’s Love and Mercy in my soul. This Love that did not judge or condemn me for my weaknesses, but only loved me, made me have an authentic baptism in the Holy Spirit.
From then on, I engaged myself in service, got to know the Charism better and started to walk a serious path within the Shalom Community. In 2009, attending college in the last year of Mathematics, I joined the Community of Life, leaving everything with a desire to give my life for the evangelization of young people. It was then in 2010, when I participated in the ordination of four brothers to the priesthood in the Shalom Life Community, I felt in my heart more strongly that God was also calling me to the priesthood.
A new time
When I enrolled in the seminary, I did part of my studies in Fortaleza (CE), and part in Lugano, Switzerland. There were very intense moments, but the power of Christ’s resurrection transformed and sustained me and made me an instrument of His love for mankind, because the Lord himself was the first to want me to become a priest and to push me forward.
Many were the signs of God leading me on this path of configuration to Him, one of them was to realize that God was already thinking about this call even before I was conceived; when my father, before getting married, had thought about entering the seminary, but was advised by the rector to wait longer. When we started dating, the same rector told my father that because he had decided to start a family, he should give the church 3 priests. My other 2 brothers are also consecrated members of the Life Community, thus fulfilling the Rector’s prophecy. We are not 3 priests, but 3 are 3 lives consecrated to God in the service of the Church.
In 2019 I was ordained Deacon, on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, 2 years after I came out unharmed from a car accident in Italy, giving total loss of the car, to show me that my life is in the hands of the Virgin Mary, who protects me at all times.
As a deacon, I have had many powerful experiences, in each Eucharist, in each Baptism, weddings celebrations and being a consolation to brothers who have lost loved ones, always recognizing in Christ our hope, I could confirm: this is my complete happiness!
I conclude this testimony with the theme of my priesthood: “As the Father has loved me, I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).
Since I was a child, I have traced on my body the sign of the cross, and with the Holy Trinity I want to live eternally, for it is in this very generous love that the Lord calls us to love all of humanity.
May this grace of my ordination today reaches each of you, for a priest is not ordained alone, he is chosen from among the people, sustained by the prayers of a community and sent to all.
May God bless you, Shalom!