LUMSDEN, Sask. — It’s a long way from Trinidad and Tobago to Vancouver to Rome and to the Regina archdiocese, but that’s the route taken by Ricardo Escalante on his journey to the priesthood and he’s not quite there yet. Archbishop Daniel Bohan on May 8, the last day of the priest’s retreat at St. Michael’s Retreat House, instituted Escalante as lector and acolyte, the first two steps on the road to ordination.
In an interview with the PM, Escalante said he knew in his late teens that he wanted to serve the church but he wasn’t sure in what capacity until his early 20s when he decided being a priest is how he wanted to serve. Prior to that, however, he was a lawyer and served in that profession for about 10 years.
“I needed to pay the bills,” he said, “and law was a good place for that.” He practiced for a short time in Trinidad and Tobago, then became a legal aid with a firm in Vancouver, where he had family.
He decided on the priesthood and entered the seminary in Vancouver, but wanted to study philosophy; with the permission of the Vancouver archbishop he journeyed to Rome to begin his studies. It was during this time that Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan visited Rome and met Escalante through a colleague.
“He told me this man would make a good priest for our archdiocese and he introduced us,” said Bohan. Escalante told the archbishop he wanted to complete his doctorate in philosophy before ordination and Bohan agreed.
“By that time I had lost contact with Vancouver,” said Escalante.
He came to Regina for a visit and liked what he saw. “A lot of scholars believe that it’s much easier for the life of the Spirit to take root when one is close to nature because of the experiences of the cycle of life and then death and that puts one up to the transcendent.” Escalante explained that the people of Regina and Saskatchewan are close to the land, which would make it easier than a bustling metropolis for the Spirit to take root. “God works in silence and not in activity.”
Escalante will complete his doctorate this summer and will return to Regina in September to begin his pastoral year. Bohan expects that Escalante will be ordained sometime next fall.
Escalante is one of nine Regina archdiocesan seminarians, but the only one studying in Rome.