Casa Estudiantil Pre-novitiate in Tijuana Begins a New Year

Tijuana, Mexico

By Fr. William Antone, OMI, Director, Casa Estudiantil


At the end of June, we were happy to see three of the six pre-novices earn their philosophy degrees through the archdiocesan seminary. Victor Izquierdo, Alvaro Zapata and Aaron Cruz passed with flying colors.  Victor hopes to attend the novitiate in Guatemala, beginning in January, 2024. Alvaro is currently attending the novitiate in Godfrey and Aaron decided not to continue in Oblate first formation. Thank you to these three young men for their participation in the formation program in Tijuana!

Carlos Martinez, Alvaro Zapata, Aaron Cruz

During the 2022-2023 school year, the six pre-novices raised more than 20,000 dollars selling literally hundreds of loaves of banana and carrot bread in order to attend World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. They traveled to Lisbon in early August with Fr. Jesse Esqueda and a number of young adults from the parish in Tijuana.

And that brings us to a NEW YEAR at the Pre-novitiate in Tijuana. Returning were three pre-novices: 4th year student, Carlos Antonio Martinez, and 3rd year students, Julian Cruz and Kevin Mazariegos. Joining the community are four new students:  1st year students, Cristian Rivera and Alex Leal and two more pre-novices, Luis Enrique Gonzalez and Fulgencio Ochoa, who are in a non-academic year of formation. There are now seven pre-novices in Tijuana as it begins its 34th year as a house of formation.

Front row: Fulgencio Ochoa, Kevin Mazariegos, Alex Leal, middle row: Luis Enrique Gonzalez, Victor Izquierdo, Cristian Rivera, Julian Cruz, Carlos Martinez, Fr. Jesse Esqueda; back row: Fr. Bill Antone, Fr. Eleazar Manuel

As is the annual custom, we began the year with a four-day orientation retreat. Rather than utilizing a regular retreat center, we rented a cabin at a vacation spot which included some nice swimming pools and thermal water. We made our own meals—spaghetti, carne asada, hamburgers, and sausage and eggs, to name a few.

The group takes a hike during the retreat

During our retreat, Fr. Eleazar facilitated the “telling of our stories.”  All the pre-novices are from Mexico, with roots in different states. The youngest is 20 and the oldest is 38. We also spent time on some other themes: the life of St. Eugene and the Oblate charism, consecrated life and the vows, our Myers-Briggs personality types and the principles and rules of the program.

Back at Casa Estudiantil the group gathers around the dinner table

Once back home in Tijuana, classes have begun, along with English tutoring, psychological accompaniment, spiritual direction, formation conferences and apostolate. The community also participates with the Affiliates who are connected to the Oblate parish and so there is a “vocation culture” which has made the Casa Estudiantil known in the larger community. The good thing as we begin the year, in my opinion, is the community spirit. It seems like everyone is enjoying being together. We will try to keep it going in that direction!

On Friday, September 8, 2023, in the Oblate parish of Maria Inmaculada, we celebrated the customary Mass of “Acceptance of Candidates”. We repeated the same at the Casa Estudiantil on Saturday, September 9th, in the presence of our friends, benefactors and neighbors here in Colonia Buena Vista. We ask God’s blessing as we begin a new year.