VANCOUVER—While the Church observes Advent in anticipation of Christmas, one Vancouver seminarian is entering another Advent of sorts: preparation for his ordination.
Guy Zidago will be ordained a deacon Dec. 29 and hopes to become a priest in 2018. “I am very excited. I am happy. For me, this is a miracle. It’s been a long, long journey.”
Zidago traces his journey to the priesthood back to his baptism in 1998. Before his conversion, he was a young man with no Christian upbringing and a serious existential crisis.
“I was looking for meaning in my life. For me, I thought to be happy was to have a good job, a beautiful wife, a big house, a bank account, a green garden, and a small dog. For me, that was happiness. I was struggling for these things,” Zidago told The B.C. Catholic.
“But deep down, I was suffering. I never knew my mother. I have a broken relationship with my father. All those things were making me suffer, a lot. Even though I was trying hard to fill up this emptiness in me, I couldn’t be happy.”
One day he heard the Gospel, and it was a turning point in his life. “I heard the good news, that God loves me the way I am. I don’t need to be good, I don’t need to do many things to be happy, but to trust him, to surrender myself totally to him.”
He was baptized and one year later, in 1999, joined the Neocatechumenal Way at his parish, St. Pierre et Paul, in Divo, Ivory Coast.
That movement strengthened his faith and his resolve to give his life to God. In 2007, after seven years in discernment, he took a 10-day retreat with other members of the Neocatechumenal Way hoping to be priests.
There, he was chosen randomly to study at a Redemptoris Mater seminary in Guam. On that Pacific island, he learned English and studied for six years before receiving another assignment: more study at a brand-new seminary in cold, rainy Vancouver.
“I am happy to be here,” said Zidago, who has just completed four years of study in Vancouver. He will be ordained a deacon, the final major step before becoming a priest, at Holy Rosary Cathedral Dec. 29.
“The moment of ordination is a moment of confirmation of the promise that God made to me when I was baptized,” said Zidago.
“When I was baptized, they asked me: what do you ask of the Church? I said, ‘Eternal life.’ This is what I am experiencing. Eternal life means a glimpse of the joy of heaven. This, for me, is through the sacrament of orders, to be chosen as a servant, as a deacon, to serve.”