At age 3, Romero received a below-knee amputation because of a birth-defect illness called osteolysis. 'My parents did well to help me adjust.'
Jacob Romero's plans for his future began at age 9, required short breaks throughout a period of years but kept occurring in his thoughts. In other words, his current career preparation was meant to be.
Romero, a Los Alamos resident, serves at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos from May 30 until July 3. As a seminarian in preparation for the priesthood, he receives a type of on-the-job training in assigned parishes during breaks from school.
"There were many roads along the way, and much support. I greatly appreciate serving and learning in Taos because it has a combination of urban and rural with a mixture of many different people," related Romero during a recent interview.
Evolution of a faith career
Romero's road to the seminary was not easy. Romero's family attended Mass in Los Alamos every weekend, but his thoughts of the priesthood occurred more often. In the late '90s, the vocational director the Incarnation Church in Río Rancho, Father John Carney, inspired him to pursue his goal. Romero hoped to enter the seminary after his 2013 graduation from Los Alamos High School. However, his parents encouraged him to experience life more. Father Carney concurred, telling him to attend college first.
"I wasn't happy. I trudged through my college courses. During my sophomore year, I attended a retreat with other college students. I spoke with my parents and they wanted me to continue my path of studying electrical engineering because I was two years away from graduation. Father Michael De Palma [chaplain at the Newman Center at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque] encouraged me to attend school for another year and to get involved at the Newman Center. I attended Bible study, and there, I met young college-age Catholics. This experience rekindled my desire to join the priesthood," explained Romero.
A year later, the De Palma, who was also Archdiocesan vocational director, sponsored an annual retreat for men. Romero attended and spent an affirming weekend listening to talks and viewing videos. He decided to continue his path to the priesthood. It was finally time.
The process involved participation in an established evaluation system. Romero received the green light to apply. Father De Palma wrote a letter of support; retired Archbishop Michael Sheehan and current Archbishop John C. Wester interviewed Romero. In the end, the Archdiocese of Sana Fe approved Romero as a seminarian at Mount Angel in Oregon, which was termed "Father John Carney's Seminary." By then, UNM junior Romero received mentorship monthly from Father John at Incarnation Church in Río Rancho.
In the fall of 2016, Romeo traveled to Mount Angel to realize his long-awaited dream. He received his college degree at this location, but not in electrical engineering. Romero received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.
Besides seminary and course work during his three years at Mount Angel, Romero's education includes parish work, a practical exercise for his future career. In Chama, he served at St. Patrick's parish, particularly in the community of Los Ojos. His next assignment occurred at UNM's Newman Center.
Romero's days in Taos end shortly, but he feels he's learned much in this community. He hopes his future includes studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. for graduate theology, a program he has applied to.
Perhaps Romero feels "at home" in the Taos parish because of family connections. His father, Christopher Romero, grew up in Peñasco. The elder Romero works as a mechanical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Jacob's mother, Euphrasia, originally from Maxwell, serves as a pediatric nurse at the Los Alamos Medical Center.
Older sister Alisa (Casey) Achi received her undergraduate degree in athletic training from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. In college, Jason and Alisa roomed together for two years. Alisa earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University in Phoenix. Now she works as a physical therapist. She met her husband, a parajumper with the U.S. Air Force, when he was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base. The couple currently resides in Long Island, New York.
Romero's principal interest includes swimming. At age 3, he received a below-knee amputation because of a birth-defect illness called osteolysis. "My parents did well to help me adjust," he said. "They instilled in me the attitude, 'Never give up. If you fall down, you have to get up.' Swimming is a good sport. It's good exercise. As I grew older, swimming and this attitude helped me appreciate." In 2012, Romero participated in the Paralympic trials and remained three seconds away from going to London for the big event.
Romero enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing near Peñasco with his dad, and hiking. Living in Oregon provided him with the outdoor activities of showshoeing and hiking.
During the course of the interview, Romero shared some of his favorite items. He likes the darker shades of red, action movies and reading theology. Lately, he appreciates reading more. "The Hobbit" remains a favorite book. Regarding food, Romero loves the Italian variety, especially pasta, and listed Olive Garden as his favorite restaurant.
The rest of the summer, seminarian Romero plans to visit with friends and spend time with his family before entering the next phase of seminary studies.
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