By Joyce Coronel, Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante Magazine
rowing up in Glendale, Deacon Marvin Soto’s family was what he described as culturally Catholic.
“We would hop around. We went to St. Louis the King every now and then, St. Vincent de Paul,” Deacon Soto said. “We didn’t really go to church when I was growing up, to be honest with you.”
That all took a dramatic shift when Deacon Soto announced God was calling him to enter the seminary. How he got to that point began with a clear command from his mother to complete his sacraments of initiation. He’d been baptized and confirmed in his native Mexico.
“My parents made me,” Deacon Soto said with a laugh. “I didn’t want to go. My mom just said, ‘You need your first Communion,’ and made us go.” He was in high school at the time. His mother said he would need his first Communion in order to get married and that he wouldn’t want to have to “do that with all the little kids.” She had no idea her motherly insistence would one day open the door to her son’s future ordination.
Searching leads him home
After high school, he began attending a non-Catholic church with some friends. “It was a Christian church, but I didn’t really care for it. And since the Catholic Church was the only one I really knew, I started going back to Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral,” Deacon Soto said.
Then-rector Father Rob Clements and his associate, Father Eugene Florea (now Father Eugene Mary of the Trinity), had a major impact on Deacon Soto’s life. The two priests encouraged a life of prayer and the sacraments, and Deacon Soto began hanging out at the cathedral.
“Father Florea was actually the first priest who asked me if I had ever thought about the priesthood, and I said, ‘Of course not.’ But there was something there,” Deacon Soto said. At the time, Father Florea was in training to become a spiritual director. “I was one of his guinea pigs,” Deacon Soto joked.
The experiment seems to have turned out well.
“It was just something that kept coming up for me,” Deacon Soto said. “Eventually, I said, ‘You know, I might want to be a priest.’ So, we started the more hands-on discernment process, to really ask God if that was His will.” Father Florea has been his spiritual director now for 10 years.
Study and waiting
“He was a very intelligent, restless, and, sometimes, like all children, mischievous child,” Marcelino Soto said of his eldest son. “He was always very extroverted and sociable. He’s a good son with a good heart.”
“We’re very proud of him.”
Deacon Soto spent three years at a seminary in Mexico and five years studying theology in Rome alongside then-seminarians, now priests, Father Gabriel Terrill, Father Vinshon Nguyen, and Father Nathaniel Glenn.
Those years in the Eternal City proved to be impactful. “We really supported each other and kind of helped each other out through seminary, and that was the most positive formational experience of all seminary, to be honest,” Deacon Soto said.
He finished his theology degree and began study in canon law before the pandemic struck.
“I didn’t get ordained with Nathaniel and Gabriel because I didn’t have my visa to come back to the United States. I actually ended up doing an extra year in Rome. It was kind of an adventure.”
As the day of his ordination to the priesthood draws near, he’s excited to move forward after finally receiving his American visa. It’s been a long wait. “I’ve been really looking forward to saying Mass. Transitional deacon is fine, but I want to say Mass already.”
Deacon Soto has been serving at Immaculate Conception Parish in Cottonwood and will remain there after his ordination to the priesthood.
“I’m happy here. I really like parish life.”
Meet Marvin Soto
- Favorite saint: Blessed Solanus Casey and Blessed Father Stanley Rother
- Favorite scripture: “Whoever wishes to come after Me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” -Mk 8:34
- Hobbies: Watching sports, listening to music, reading non-fiction
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