He called me when I knew him not
My name is Fr. Kennedy Rodríguez Montes de Oca, and I come from the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. I am the eighth of twelve children, all of whom were born and raised in Barahona, a province in the southwest with a paltry presence of the Church, where the percentage of various sects and nonbelievers is quite high. My family belonged to the latter group, not because we did not want to join the Catholic faith, but because no one had taught us.
Only when we moved to the capital city did we first hear about the Catholic Faith, though we still did not practice this faith. I credit my conversion to my neighbor who invited me to a CCD class. I gradually grew to know Jesus and drew very close to Him. This all began as a teenager since my young childhood was completely absent of any knowledge of Jesus. And yet, everything I heard about him was extraordinary.
During this time I had the opportunity to meet other religious denominations and systems of belief, but none were as convincing as the Catholic Faith. The liturgy, the sacraments, and the person of the priest strongly drew my attention. How is it possible that a man with his own two hands can bring God Himself to earth and give God to others?
At the age of 17, I was invited to participate in a retreat that touched my life in a very special way. But the thought still never occurred to me that God perhaps wanted me to follow him in this particular path. Instead it was a feeling that I wanted to draw nearer to God. I remember how on Sundays, so as to avoid any suspicion in my family, I would get up very early while everyone was still sleeping and attend Sunday Mass. Afterwards I returned home and went back to bed to get up with everyone else as if nothing had happened.
Finally, that same year, I told my family of my desire to become a Catholic priest. Obviously everyone was opposed to the idea and could not believe it. They thought I was crazy.
And from that moment on, all the way to my priestly ordination, I began a difficult path, a period of suffering and purification, where I had to accept that even my own family, relatives, and friends, seemed to be against me. But I felt comfort knowing that He who has called me has traveled the same road, and that I was not alone. I was ordained a priest on August 23rd, 2008 by the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Primate of America, Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez.
Immediately after my ordination I was assigned to work at a parish called Evangelizadora Mediática San Antonio de Padua. It was a church particularly known for its unique mission. In addition to the regular pastoral work, my parish had the responsibility of broadcasting the liturgical celebrations and other liturgical events to various stations both nationally and internationally, reaching a total of thirteen national channels and four in the United States. Here I began to understand the importance of media for transmitting the Gospel to the masses.
Later I was sent to a poor parish in the countryside. It was a big change, but the mission is always the same: evangelization. There we built churches and schools, with the support of many people I met in my previous parish. In 2013 I was asked to come to Rome to study Church Communications. I can say that it has been, and remains to be, an experience that enriches and opens my horizons, enabling me to perform the mission of Jesus in the vast and fertile fields of the media, as I work for the harvest.