A Mother’s Pride and Joy

First Profession of Vows, John Sebatian Gutierrez and family. Patricia Sanchez still becomes emotional when speaking about her son, John Sebastian Gutierrez, CSC, professing first vows. “I’m so proud of him,” she says. “He has a mission in life to spread the word of God. That’s how it was in the beginning with the apostles, and now he and the brothers are continuing that mission.”

A single mother, Sanchez raised her two sons, John Sebastian and Simon, in San Antonio, TX. Every weekend, they’d visit their large extended family to attend church and pray together. The boys embraced their family’s strong faith, despite pressure from friends and society. Sometimes it was difficult. One evening, as Sebastian waited for a bus, a man began to make remarks about his t-shirt, which bore a cross on the front. To avoid a confrontation, John Sebastian chose to wait for the next bus.

“I taught them not to be ashamed of who we are,” Sanchez explains, noting that her father, who passed away recently, was particularly proud of his grandson’s vocation. “We talked about staying strong in our faith, and how they shouldn’t be followers.”

Sanchez first got an inkling of her son’s calling when he was a young altar server in grammar school. In sixth grade, he talked of how he loved to be on the altar. He wrote about spirituality with the maturity of an adult, essays the proud mother still enjoys reading. Later, in high school, he began to discuss religious life more seriously, and in college, began the formal discernment process. “She certainly could have seen it long before I did,” laughs John Sebastian. “My mom led me to a certain point and then God kicked in. I continue to share with her as I move forward,” he says. “There may be something that inspired me at Mass and I’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s discern this together.’”

Sanchez advises other parents to be open to their children exploring vocations. Above all, they need someone to talk to about their dreams, and any doubts that arise. While she encouraged John Sebastian in his journey, she also gave him permission to leave if that’s what he ultimately decided. Now, she values the Holy Cross family that has embraced John Sebastian, as well as herself and Simon. “I know I’m part of the Holy Cross family, and it’s amazing,” Sanchez says. “I’m just a normal mom. I’ve been an open vessel for John Sebastian to support him. But I don’t think he walks on water. He’s still my son, and I’ll always be there to talk to him and give him advice.”