St. John the Evangelist Parish’s vision statement says, “we have encountered Jesus Christ in His Church and desire to share the joy of that encounter with the whole world. We believe that Christ’s one true Church is the place He has chosen for us to know, love and serve Him.” This statement is the heart of what has brought Jonathan Evangelista to serve his Church in whatever God is calling him to do in Goshen. Evangelista is currently serving St. John as the pastoral associate.
He was born in Acapulco, Mexico. “My family moved to Goshen in 2000, and we started to attend St. John. We found a home here and have been very involved in the apostolates of the church. My parents serve as lectors, extraordinary ministers of the holy Eucharist and I was an altar server. I had a very good Catholic family upbringing, we pray the rosary as a family, have a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and my mom prays the Divine Mercy chaplet every day at 3 p.m.,” shared Evangelista.
“I am the oldest of three. I have two sisters; my middle sister, Yareli Mancera, is a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Ariel, have three very active boys, Santiago, Mateo and Gabriel. My youngest sister, Rosabel Evangelista, is a junior at Goshen College in the nursing program. Growing up, we attended Goshen community schools and we attended religious education classes on Sundays at St. John.”
Being an active member of his parish youth group and attending diocesan retreats, along with a strong Catholic family upbringing, may be why Evangelista heard the call to the priesthood.
“I first felt the attraction to the priesthood as a teen. I was a sophomore in high school, and it was during adoration that I felt the first call to discern my vocation. I spoke with my pastors at that time, Father Christopher Smith and Father Constantino Rocha, and made a decision my senior year to enter formation. Father Fernando Jimenez and Father Tony Steinacker, the subsequent pastor and parochial vicar, were also a very big influence in my discernment and gave me spiritual direction to enter Pontifical College Josephinum on Aug. 17, 2013.”
Evangelista graduated from the Josephinum in 2017 and spent that summer on a spiritual retreat in Omaha, Nebraska.
“IPF, the Institute for Priestly Foundation, was awesome. It helped me with my decision to continue my formation, and I enrolled that fall to Mount St. Mary’s University to continue my studies in theology. As I continued to learn and grow in my faith, and through my spiritual direction, I deepened my relationship with the Lord.
“I was still listening and discerning what God was calling me to do, through much prayer and discernment and with the guidance of the vocation director, Father Andrew Budzinski, and Bishop Rhoades. We came to the conclusion that I was no longer going to continue in formation in order for God to continue to work in my life.”
The formation years had allowed time for Evangelista to mature in his faith and to really listen to how God was calling him to serve.
“I was looking for a job and asked Father Gregerson if he needed any help at the parish. I started working at St. John on Jan. 4. I am now able to implement everything I learned in seminary and apply it to my ministry,” he said. “First Father Gregerson was going to have me work as the director of religious education and then realized he had other plans for me. I currently serve the young adults and the youth of our community. I also coordinate social events, train the altar servers, and teach first-year Confirmation.” Evangelista is bilingual, which is an asset to the St. John parish family.
He also created a media team to keep the families engaged and informed of the happenings of the parish.
“I like to see young adults and our youth participate in the Mass and other apostolates of the Church. If others see these young people serving the Church, perhaps they will feel that they, too, can serve the Church.”
Evangelista is often in prayer and listening to how God wants him to know, love and serve Him.
“To live out my faith every day can be simple but also difficult, but it is in prayer that I find my strength to live boldly and do God’s will in my life. I want the young people of St. John to fall in love with the Lord, deepen their relationship with Him and strive to become holy every day. I also want for them to know that it is not about not making mistakes, but about learning from mistakes so that we can continue to grow every day and be a witness to others with our love, faith and actions.”
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