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NOMINEE

Father Omar Soto Torres

Diocese of Ponce, Puerto Rico

When Father Omar Soto Torres arrived at his new parish of Sacred Heart Parish in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, he found a community in ruins. The parish serves the poorest areas of the town of Salinas, and they lacked human and spiritual resources.

 

The 33-year-old priest wasted no time getting to work. In the aftermath of the Hurricanes, Father Omar worked alongside his new neighbors to distribute humanitarian aid to the town. Along with physical resources, he also offered hope and the consolation of God’s Word.

 

Their emergency outreach soon extended far beyond their own community. The parish sent food and medical supplies to five other towns nearby. Through his leadership during this crisis, Father Omar created a call to solidarity and fraternity, showing that we are all children of the same God. 

 

Father Omar is a priest that is dedicated to his community. He has united the parish and welcomed other people in the town to join them through charity and outreach. He attributes his successful outreach to the hope that God has shown through him.

 

“The greatest thing I have received in my life is being a priest,” said Father Omar. “What I do is influence lives with the Gospel and let one know that there is always hope. The center is not me, it is Jesus.”

 

Father Omar has the special ability to make the Gospel simple, accessible and joyful. This approach has helped to bring more young people to the church. He believes in the power of young people to give new life to the parish. During Mass he takes time to explain the Word of God to the children and welcomes them at the church. When he met resistance from older parishioners who made up much of parish, he was persistent in his approach. 

 

“Ask yourselves who will be sitting in your place in twenty years,” he told them. “Now answer if truly the children are the future of the community.” 

 

Father Omar believes that his work is not just important, it is essential. He says that the greatest thing to happen to him in his life was to become a priest. Though his vocation, he works to influence lives through the Gospel and let others know that there is always hope.

 

He completed his seminary education in Ponce at Regina Cleri Seminary. After obtaining a licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain, he returned home to serve the Church in Puerto Rico. He was ordained in 2012.

 

“I am convinced that I am where God wants me to be to proclaim Jesus,” said Father Omar. “Being a priest, for me means being a human being, belonging to Jesus, bringing others to Jesus and making Jesus present.”