Father Pedro Francisco Angucho López, 31, said it was the grace of God and his mother’s prayers that finally got him to realize the importance of his vocation. Also, people, even total strangers, kept telling him that he was meant to be a priest.
Angucho was born in La Plata Huila, Colombia, to Luis and Maria. He is one of eight children.
When he was around 7 years old, his older brother, who was already an adult at the time, told him: You should be the priest of the family. The suggestion felt like it was from left field. Angucho didn’t take it seriously.
He didn’t like school, and he certainly was not fond of authority. He dropped out of high school without much of a plan. His parent weren’t happy.
So he left town and found a job in Cali, a city in Colombia. It was surprisingly easy. He still didn’t have a plan and moved around a lot. He fell into a serious relationship, and his girlfriend wanted to marry. Angucho was not about compromising himself for anyone else. So they broke it off.
Through it all, he never stopped attending Sunday Mass. Once, when he moved to a new parish, he had a strange encounter with the priest who was greeting the congregants after Mass.
“Are you a seminarian?” asked the priest, who had never met Angucho before.
When Angucho said he was not, the priest insisted: “But don’t lie to me, you have thought about it.”
Angucho allowed himself to be convinced to join the seminary. He still didn’t like to study, or authority. Studying theology in a seminary didn’t sit well with him, and so he quit and went to the capital, Bogotá. The call of the priesthood simply followed him.
He met a recruiter from the Archdiocese of New York, who offered him a chance to go to seminary in New York, right away. Angucho didn’t want to put in the work of learning theology in Spanish, never mind in a completely new language. He never had any plans of mov-ing to the United States. Spain maybe, but not the U.S.
Still, he felt torn up about it, and so he sought spiritual direction from a priest who suggested he spend a year in a Colombian seminary and then think about New York.
Angucho did as the priest suggested. When the time came, he went to Yonkers and joined the seminary for the archdiocese. But it was hard. And Angucho quit.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio saw something in the young man and personally convinced him to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
This time Angucho stuck to it. He learned English and then all the academics needed to finish seminary. When asked how he managed to do it, Father Angucho thought for a minute and answered: “my mother’s prayers.”
He said the grace of God helped him finally see that anything worth pursuing requires dedication and sacrifice. He also began to be more humble and accepting of others’ legitimate authority over him.
He said he had prayed through it all and slowly began to accept his vocation.
“When you pray, God gives you a gift,” he said.
He started to embrace the idea of the promise of obedience to the bishop and all his successors. He started to see the joy in being a servant of God’s people.
Father Angucho will offer his first Mass of thanksgiving at St. Michael Church, Sunset Park.