The Rev. Eduardo Rivera ’14, CSB, was not one of those people who pretended to celebrate Mass with stuffed animals as a child. In fact, when Fr. Rivera began attending the University of St. Thomas, his goal was not to become a priest, but an attorney working for the foreign service. In many ways, he is living out that vocation, serving as an ambassador for Christ, after being ordained to the priesthood on May 23rd. Fr. Rivera discovered his vocation to the priesthood “a little bit at a time.”
“There was not one light bulb moment where I was like, ‘This is it,’” Fr. Rivera said. “In many ways it was a progressive thing. Little by little, I could see the signs of God calling me to the religious life and to the priesthood.”
In ministry settings and living in community with priests, Fr. Rivera was consistently affirmed in his discernment. Those were the moments when he could picture himself being a priest for the rest of his life.
He arrived at the decision to join the Basilians through the same type of discernment. Fr. Rivera recalls asking a priest how to determine what order to join or if to become a diocesan priest and receiving the answer, “Wherever you are finding God the most, that is where you are being called.”
“I am finding God in campus ministry, through my schooling and education, and that is the basis of the Basilian way of life,” Fr. Rivera said. “‘Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge.’ It’s all about education and sharing Christ the Educator to all.”
In May 2019, he was ordained a member of the Congregation of St. Basil as a deacon and served at St. Anne Catholic Community in Houston, where he developed his pastoral skills. He also served as a chaplain at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Recently, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, his timeline was shaken up, and while his ordination was never in jeopardy, the date was. The Most Rev. George Sheltz, auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston who presided over the ordination, made the decision to keep the May 23rd date, following mandated social distancing, in lieu of postponing the ordination further into an increasingly unclear future.
The ordination was an intimate affair, pared down to follow social distancing guidelines, yet served as a beacon of hope and joy for the Basilian and UST communities against the background of coronavirus.
Fr. Rivera is serving his first year as a priest working in campus ministry at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., acting as a chaplain for the athletics program.