Rafael Ghattas learns that discernment is a daily experience

Seminarian Rafael Ghattas, pictured here during a mission trip to Guatemala, will be ordained into the transitional diaconate on May 22. (Provided)

Rafael Ghattas is currently in his third year theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas. His ordination into the transitional diaconate is scheduled for May 22 at St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach.

Who is a person you admire?

I admire Jesus’ intimate relationship with His disciples as I learn of this through my study of Johannine literature. I imagine a very emotional and happy encounter between Jesus and His Beloved when John finally reunited with Jesus in heaven.  When I leave this life, I hope Jesus will embrace and acknowledge me as a close friend who spent his life trying to love Him.  

How did you discern your vocation?

Twelve years ago, I was anxious about my future and begged God to help me learn what His dream was for me. Gently, God helped me to realize that discernment is a daily experience and what He really cares about is today — not tomorrow. Today He wants me to offer Him my poor heart so that He can grace it to grow in love.  

What is a favorite place where you have traveled?

In my 20s, I traveled to many countries and volunteered for missions. To my surprise, the poorer the country, the more fruitful was my experience. Being with the poor teaches me to truly appreciate even God’s smallest gifts and how to totally trust and depend on Him. 

At 14 or 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What I really cared about then was dancing. My father wanted me to be an engineer. Until I turned 24, I studied engineering in the morning and spent all my free time dancing and giving dance lessons.   

What do you want people to remember you for?

I hope the people of God would remember me as being a good and happy priest who tried to love God as much as he could in his life. 

Three words that describe you?

A weak, sinful kid who fell in love with Jesus.

What are the pastimes that you are happiest doing? 

Playing tennis, going to the movies and, if by chance I get invited to a wedding reception, dancing!  

What are some causes that you care about?

I love this life but, to be honest, I am much more excited and fascinated with the next one! Imagine how amazingly cheerful it will be to live eternally with God who loves us.

What would you say would be your personal motto?

I pray that in my priesthood I will be able to show people how seriously God takes each one of us. Yet, because He is a tender God, He never forces Himself but very gently tries to attract us closer to Him. 

Editor’s note: The Serra Club is working with The Catholic Miscellany to provide a series of profiles on the Diocese of Charleston’s seminarians.

The Serra Club of Charleston is a member of the USA branch of Serra International with the goal of nurturing vocations around the world. For more information, email Debra Dinolfo at debdinolfo@gmail.com.