Far from home, close to God

Seminarian John Torres, a long way from his native Brazil, finds a new home in the Diocese of Greensburg


John Torres, 38, thought his life plans in Brazil were on track. He graduated from university with a journalism degree and then became engaged to his longtime girlfriend. For Torres, life was moving in the direction that he planned. But it was a family memory that opened his heart to hear and to discern that God had other plans for him. It was a call that would lead him on a more than 5,000 mile journey from his home and family to Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe to advance his studies towards the priesthood.

“I remember going to Mass with my family when I was a kid, sitting in the first pew, amazed at what was happening. I didn’t know what it was, but it was beautiful and that’s what I wanted to be,” Torres recalled. “I started thinking about that vocation that I was trying not to answer to. And in my mind I started to think, if I enter seminary and then I see that’s
not my vocation, I can always leave and continue my life. But if I get married, and see that’s not my vocation, there’s no way back.”

Prayer played an important part in listening and responding to the Lord’s call and to discern his life-changing decision.

That leap of faith brought Torres to the Diocese of Greensburg. After five years of studying  in Latrobe, he graduated in May 2022. Scholarship commitments would require Torres to return to his home and the Diocese of Amparo in Campinas, Brazil. Once again, Torres felt God was asking him to do more.

During his time at the seminary and through his experience in parishes across the Diocese of Greensburg, the dwindling number of priests caused Torres to become concerned. He knew he wanted to help. Torres felt God sent him on this path to the Diocese for a reason. This time, it was for the Church and its people, the faithful across our four-county Diocese.

Immersing himself in the culture wasn’t easy for Torres. He didn’t speak English, didn’t know anyone and was thousands of miles away from his family. He knew with the mercy of Christ and perseverance, he would be successful.

It was through his trust in his discernment that Torres says he finally feels at home in the Diocese. He says he is grateful for his summer assignment at the parishes in the Yough Catholic Community.

“This is my Diocese. These are the people I’ll be working with, my flock,” he said.

He knows all of the struggles were part of God’s plan to prepare him for this stage of life to use his vocation and life experiences to make him stronger and to help  people get closer to God’s presence.

“All of us have the power that God gave us to touch other people’s lives, and we can go to heaven together,” Torres said. “My heart is at peace, and I am where God wants me to be.”


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