Father Jesús Ledezma Castro

His Priestly Journey Fueled by Family, Parish Priests

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In many ways, it should not have come as a surprise that Jesús Ledezma Castro decided to pursue the priesthood. He had thought about such a vocation since he was a child growing up in a family with seven sisters and one brother in Zacatecas, Mexico.

The Ledezmas were steeped in family values and their Catholic faith. Jesús cited his parents, Jose and Guadalupe, as “strong models of faith and love, supporting me in every way, especially with their prayers.”

As Jesús began to consider his priestly calling in high school, he drew support from the pastors of St. Joseph’s parish in his hometown of Tayahua.

Reading about the lives of the Mexican martyrs who were persecuted for their Catholic beliefs confirmed his desire to serve the Lord.

His own journey to the priesthood would take him far from his native land. He cited his parents for “willingly” making the sacrifice to be separated from him as his studies continued.

First, he relocated to New York, where he took up studies at St. John Neumann Residence and Hall while earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University in Queens.

Early in his final year of college seminary, he and his classmate, Father John Wilson, met with Cardinal Dolan, who asked if they would continue their priestly formation at Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome.

Before they left, the prelate shared a brief prayer in Italian that remains with him. “Sia lodato Gesu Cristo, sempre sia lodato.” (“Praised be Jesus Christ, may He always be praised.”)

He called his years at NAC “an enriching experience,” made more so by the “diversity” of seminarians from across the United States.

During his studies in New York, he gained priestly insight from Father Luis Saldaña, who explained that “priestly holiness is a very practical and human endeavor, as opposed to an abstract and complex thing.” At NAC, he cited the mentorship of former rector, now-Bishop James Checchio, who was ordained as Bishop of Metuchen, N.J., on May 3.

He is looking forward to serving as a priest in the archdiocese, but first must return to NAC to complete a licentiate in biblical theology.

He has interests ranging from Hispanic and prison ministries to evangelizing the culture and biblical theology. He has enjoyed parish service during summer breaks, first at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and then for two years at St. Ann’s on Staten Island.

He counts the celebration of the Eucharist and the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours as important sources of strength. “No one gives what he does not have, so the encounter with Christ and His Church at the celebration of the Eucharist and the following encounters throughout the day inspire, guide and sustain any other activity,” he said.

Father Ledezma Castro will celebrate his First Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Church in the Bronx on Sunday, May 29, at 3 p.m. Father Luis Saldaña, director of spiritual formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, will deliver the homily.

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