marianist.com/donate • 15 devastation it wreaked across the island, the storm had a significant personal impact: It forced the postpone- ment of his priestly ordination, originally set for that coming Saturday. Still, this native son came to see the delay as a blessing. It gave hundreds of Puerto Ricans in San Juan and in his hometown of Aguadilla, located on the northwestern end of the island, something to cele- brate in the hurricane’s aftermath. His ordination on Nov. 25 and the First Mass of Thanksgiving the next day turned into “a jubilant experience in the life of the Puerto Rican Church, and a moment of hope and relief,” Father Añeses says. In a sense, it was a uniquely Marianist gift. “We are called to be attentive to what others need — sometimes just being there for them,” says FatherAñeses, explaining that the quality of Marianists’ presence is often more important than the work they do. A different kind of freedom Father Añeses remembers being drawn to public expressions of faith as a youngster. “I wanted to be more than a spectator. I wanted to walk in our Holy Week processions,” he says. “And so I did.” There were stirrings in his heart, too, about a religious vocation. “But I wasn’t convinced,” he recalls. Instead, he began a teaching career in the early 1990s at his alma mater, a Redemptorist high school in Aguadilla. While he found the classroom energizing, he still wanted to explore the consecrated life. With that in mind, he moved to San Juan in 1996, taking a faculty position at Colegio San José — his first contact with the Society of Mary. “I considered other congregations, but I love teaching,” Father Añeses says. “It was a blessing that — for Marianists — education has been a means of faith formation.” He also appreciated the community’s warm and inviting spirit. “They realized that I was taking baby steps toward the religious life, and they were willing to walk with me along this path.” During his discernment, he often wrestled with the issue of freedom. “As an unmarried lay person, I was free to do whatever I wanted,” he says. “So I knew I’d have to take a leap of faith, and, perhaps, leave some things behind — my teaching career, the Puerto Rican culture,mylanguage.”In2004,allofthisprovedtruewhen he entered the Marianist novitiate in Dayton, Ohio. As his journey continued, Father Añeses felt power- fully drawn to the sacred mystery at the root of Marianist spirituality. “Each day, we ask for the gift of assisting Mary in her mission of bringing Jesus into the world,” he says. “That is what we, as Marianists, commit ourselves to do.” He returned to teaching at Colegio San José after taking first vows in 2006. Called by the Marianists to discern a vocation to the priesthood, in 2013, he switched from full-time teacher to full-time student and com- pleted the required philosophy courses. A year later, he moved to the Marianist seminary in Rome for theology studies. At the seminary, he encountered a mix of seven or eight cultures among the brothers in the international community. And yet, “I always felt at home,” he says. “Even though we were from different cultures, we had a sense of brotherhood that helped us live as a family.” This cross-cultural experience also helped him broaden his understanding of what it means to be “church.” “Unity and diversity are not opposed to each other,” Father Añeses says. “Unity doesn’t mean uniformity.” As for his extended period of discernment? Ultimately, it helped clarify an important personal truth: “Joining the Marianists does not mean giving away my freedom,” he says. “It means living freedom in a different way.” ■ John Schroeder is a freelance writer from St. Louis. If you know of anyone considering religious life or would like more information, please contact Brother Mark Motz, SM, at [email protected] or call 314.250.4505. God is calling Help our vocation ministry. We invite you to assist our vocation ministry. There are monthly giving clubs and other options from which to choose. To donate,use the enclosed envelope or go to marianist.com/donate or contact Brother Alex Tuss, SM, 937.222.4641, ext. 3003, or [email protected] marianistmission.org. Father Añeses, SM, celebrates Mass with students at the school.