As we approach the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, we put the spotlight on Brother Teodoro Zamora, SA. The Nicaraguan-born Friar shares his vocation story and what led him to the Society of the Atonement:
I come from a large family in Nicaragua, and I am the last of eight children. My parents were called by the Lord, each at a young age.
I lived a lifestyle of peace in the country, in harmony with nature, with family and friends. My life passed between the noise of the river, the sound of the birds and the mooing of cows. I organized my time between field work, study and pastoral activities: first communion catechism; confirmation; coordinating small base ecclesial communities; youth ministry; and charismatic renewal.
When I arrived in the city, however, I felt a radical change. There was evidence of vices – drugs, alcohol, parties. I maintained my position of letting those who invited me know that I had not migrated from the countryside to the city to get lost in pleasure or vices. Rather, I left the field to achieve my dreams of becoming a professional.
I studied social communication, religious and pastoral sciences. I took certain courses like microcomputer operations; graphic design; video editing; strategic communication; ethics and governance; governments in the age of social networks; digital security; data journalism; and investigative journalism.
Between challenges, responsibilities and service that accompanied my professional and lay life, I asked myself many times, like the Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
In May of 2017, my superior manager told me, “Teo, go to our diocese with us. You are a good Christian.” I replied that my aspiration was to get to know a community of religious capable of serving the Church. I said, “I will not rest until I find a space to consecrate my life.”
God arranged the moment in June of 2018. After having finished the Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayer, my immediate boss told me he has a friend, who has a friend, who knows of a community of religious who welcome late vocations. This is how my divine adventure began with the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.
I felt extremely attracted by the aspect of minority, the Charism of the Friars of the Atonement, such as Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. And, by the mission they carry out in care for people who suffer drug addiction and alcoholism. The message of the Biblical text of John, Chapter 17, verse 21 (Jesus’ prayer for the unity of all believers) captivated me; it revolutionized my interior, because it spoke to my heart. It questioned me to leave everything and be one – that is, “take up your cross and follow me.” Aware of this, I let God act in the process. I let God continue acting and doing His work in me.
In May of 2019, I received an invitation to travel to Peru for my first vocational meeting. When I boarded the plane, I felt in a figurative sense I was traveling to Heaven. I was beginning a process of saying “Yes” to God.
December 22, 2021 was the date that I closed the pact with God, saying “Yes” to the Novitiate stage. Then came December 17, 2022. It was undoubtedly a special moment of my initial formative stage in the community of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, making my first profession of vows.
The words from Minister General Father Brian Terry’s homily still resonate with me: “We must be strong to cope with the load.”
At the moment of being called and placing my hands in the hands of the Minister General, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was wonderful, the day of my religious profession, to see how God manifested Himself in a simple way and with great theological meaning through a symbol – a clay cross I received from Father Brian. If I let myself be molded by God’s love and mercy, I will be a valuable piece for the extension of His Kingdom.
Now that I have made my first profession as a Friar of the Atonement, I am in my first year of philosophical studies at the John XXIII Higher Institute of Theological Studies in Lima, Peru.