Rev. Rodrigo Valenzuela Rios, C.S.C., was ordained in the District of Chile on April 21, 2012 by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, Chile. Fr. Rodrigo teaches theology at Saint George’s College in Santiago, and serves as a campus minister there. He also assists at Nuestra Señora de la Merced, a parish in Calle Larga, near Santiago.
In the year before being ordained a priest, Fr. Rodrigo spent 10 days on a mission trip to a village in Chile called Quilacahuín. It was among the people of this small, rural village that Fr. Rodrigo discovered just what kind of priest he was called to be. Quilacahuín sits among winding and unpaved roads in rural southern Chile, and people there live in wooden houses that often do not outlast the winter winds and rain. Villagers suffer from the lack of a steady supply of drinking water and extremely hot weather in the summer.
During his mission trip, Fr. Rodrigo blessed houses and helped to celebrate the Mass. He even walked for many miles to bring the Eucharist to the sick and elderly who were unable to travel to the village chapel.
“For the people we visited, … and for me personally, it was unforgettable,” Fr. Rodrigo said. “There, fatigue did not bother me, nor did having few hours of sleep. The main thing was to share this immense joy of proclaiming a Christ who is alive. “I believe this was one of the experiences that … helped me decide the type of Holy Cross priest I have been called to be.”
Fr. Rodrigo said his work as a missionary showed him the true meaning of service, giving of oneself freely, and gratefulness. Serving the people of Quilacahuín changed Fr. Rodrigo, and set a course for his priesthood. He went from “being a missionary to being missioned to,” he said. “Without a doubt, it has been a time of grace, in which God has used our hands and our voices to proclaim his Gospel, and to proclaim his Good News.”