Deacon Emanuel Pedro Daniel Lucero, a 36-year-old former blacksmith from Argentina, attributes his journey to the priesthood to the faith taught to him by his parents, his association with the Neocatechumenal Way, conversations with his parish priest and the writings of several saints.

“What drew me to the priesthood was the Word of God… I constantly felt that Jesus Christ was calling me to go on mission. It echoed in me every time I heard the Word proclaiming that Jesus ‘sent His disciples’,” Deacon Lucero said. “I also benefited from reading St. Augustine’s Confessions, St. Therese of Lisieux’s The Story of a Soul, and a very small book by St. John Paul II, Get up. Let us go!"

Deacon Lucero is one of eight men who will be ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington on June 20.

In addition to saintly inspiration, the future priest said that the “domestic celebrations with my family and the Church in the context of a small community” along with conversations with his parish priest, Father Rubén Rueda, “helped me to discern more deeply about my vocation.”

“Father Rubén is the parish priest in my hometown for over 30 years. He spent three years with Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) in the minor seminary and took care of him when he was seriously ill,” Deacon Lucero said. “He baptized most of my siblings, presided over their weddings and now is baptizing most of my nephews and nieces.”

One of eight children – five boys and three girls – born to Aldo and Olga Lucero, Deacon Lucero is a native of Neuquén, Argentina. Crediting his parents’ example, the future priest said they taught him to view his Catholic faith “as a gift from the Church … which I continue to this day. I experienced that God is a Father, that He provides, and never abandons me.”

He came to the Archdiocese of Washington though his association with the Neocatechumenal Way.

Sometimes called The Way, the Neocatechumenal Way is a 56-year-old Catholic movement founded in Spain and dedicated to adult and family faith formation. An estimated 1.5 million Catholics belong to the Way in about 40,000 parish-based groups worldwide. The Way has also established more than 100 Redemptoris Mater diocesan mission seminaries around the world, including one in Hyattsville, Maryland, for the Archdiocese of Washington.

“Without the Neocatechumenal Way I would have never found my vocation,” Deacon Lucero said. “The Way helps me in my journey of ongoing Christian faith formation.”

Catechists from the Way “asked me if I was willing to go anywhere and I said, ‘Yes.’ I was sent to the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Washington, D.C.,” he explained. He added that he was surprised “to be able to evangelize in English and to help people have an encounter with Jesus Christ. I never thought I would be able to speak English.”

Outside of his seminary studies, Deacon Lucero enjoys playing the charango, a stringed instrument native to the Andes that is similar to a lute or ukulele. 

Preparing for the priesthood during worldwide concern over the spread of COVID-19, Deacon Lucero said that “this pandemic has helped me to pray much more. It helps me to put all my trust in God who is in control, and He has a better plan for the future of the Church.”

He said that as a priest he anticipates his biggest challenge to be “not doing the will of God,” but he looks forward to “reaching out and preach the Good News so that people get closer to God.”