Now Deacon Martín, who will be ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington on June 20, fervently believes that God’s word has the power to change people’s lives. He knows that is true from his own life, because when he was attending World Youth Day in 2005 in Cologne, Germany, he heard the words of Ephesians 5:14 proclaimed during one of the youth gatherings, and that passage helped inspire him to seek to become a priest:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Those words amounted to a spiritual wake-up call for the native of Spain. Around that time, he had been working as a physical education teacher for an elementary school, but he was feeling empty and depressed. The things that the world promises will make you happy weren’t making him happy, he said. “It was a difficult moment in my life. Sometimes God uses difficult moments to touch your life (and help you)… to encounter him.”

Around that time, a young Spanish priest named Father Salvador David “gave me words of consolation,” he said. He encouraged Martín to think about the priesthood. “He was fulfilled. You could tell he was happy.”

Now Deacon Martín is convinced that God used that challenging time to help him discover “what he wanted for me in life.”

Deacon Martín grew up in a devout Catholic family. He said his parents raised him and his sister “in a Catholic environment. We used to pray the rosary together as a family a couple of times a week,” and he remembers seeing his grandfather pray the rosary every day.

“The biggest thing I received from my father was the faith,” he said. “…There’s no greater gift you can receive than faith.”

When he was a youth, his family became active in the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement that emphasizes the Christian formation and evangelization of families. Beginning in 1995, he began attending Pope John Paul II’s World Youth Day gatherings with other young people active in the Neocatechumenal Way.

As a teen and then as a young adult, he had the experience of celebrating his Catholic faith with young people from around the world. “You can see the Catholic Church is catholic – universal. We are not by ourselves,” he said. “…When you get together and see the power of unity, it strengthens you in your faith. Every time you go to one of those, you come back rejuvenated.”

As a seminarian, Deacon Martín attended Pope Francis’s World Youth Day in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. Deacon Martín and his fellow pilgrims were hosted by a poor family in Brasilia. “They were poor, but they gave everything to us, (so) I could feel at home. We were welcomed,” he said. “In the U.S., we have plenty of everything. These people had just a little, but whatever they had, they gave away.”

The future priest got to experience another worldwide event in 2010, when he returned home in Spain and joined crowds watching the World Cup soccer finals telecast from South Africa, when his home country defeated the Netherlands in the closing minutes of a thrilling game. “The whole nation, everybody was in the streets watching the game,” he said. “When we (Spain) scored, the whole nation shouted.”

Besides sports, Deacon Martín’s outside interests include listening to classical music and watching classic movies, especially ones like “Forrest Gump” and the original “Star Wars” trilogy that have hopeful themes.

Since last year, he has served as a seminarian at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Gaithersburg, where he will celebrate his first Mass at noon on June 21. The parish, he said, is very busy, and at first he felt “kind of afraid” as he began serving there, but he soon felt welcomed and loved. “By serving them, all my fears disappeared,” he said, adding that his work there has included assisting at Masses and Baptisms, helping teach religious education classes to teenagers and making Communion calls to the sick and elderly.

Deacon Martín is looking forward to beginning his new life as a parish priest. “I realize it will be a big change. I will be living in a new location, a new parish, a new life. It’s a new responsibility,” he said. “… As a priest, you have to serve the people of God.”

A message he has experienced and looks forward to sharing, he said, is, “the fact that God can change your life."