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92-year-old has given 69 years to priestly ministry

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Mónica Muñoz - Aleteia

Mons. Félix bendiciendo durante una bendición.

Mónica Muñoz - published on 12/27/23

Life-long fidelity to the priestly ministry is possible. This saintly priest has inspired many vocations because of his impeccable life.

He has a stooped gait but a young spirit. Mgr. Félix Yáñez Montoya, 92, has been a priest for 69 years. He has spent far more time in ministry than he did living with his blood family — a decision he has never regretted. Surrounded by the faithful of the parish where he still serves, he recently celebrated his anniversary of ordination and thanked God for his vocation.

He’s originally from Apaseo el Grande, a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico. Many priests have known him since they began their seminary formation and all remember him with respect and affection. One of his former classmates, a teacher in the seminary, said that he has always been a great example of “a priest of integrity, dedicated to his ministry, a companion on the road, an impeccable and faithful spiritual director.”

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Mgr. Felix Yanez with parishioners from his parish during the diocesan pilgrimage to the mountain of Christ the King.

A lifetime dedicated to God

The memories illuminate his gaze, and Mgr. Félix answers every question with the conviction that God called him personally. His vocation was born thanks to his parish priest, Fr. Efrén Flores Rico, who had invited him to go to the seminary “next year.” He, a boy of about 9 years old at the time, only managed to answer “yes,” without knowing what it was about. However, he innocently believed that for the following year, the priest would forget his words.

‘The next year, the parish priest brought it up again. Mgr. Félix says that at the time he didn’t understand the magnitude of that invitation. Everyone in his house agreed, but he “didn’t grasp the invitation, couldn’t digest it,” he recalls fondly and clearly, as if it had been yesterday.

His mother asked him why he didn’t want to go to the seminary. “Do you already know what it’s like?” “No, I don’t,” little Félix replied. “Then go. If you like it, you can stay, and if you don’t, then you can come home.” It was in this way that, concluding the fifth year of elementary school, he entered the seminary. As it turns out, he did like it, and he didn’t go back home. “I stayed in the seminary, and I’ve stayed (in this path) until today,” he says happily.

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Mgr. Félix Yáñez Montoya on his 69th anniversary

A happy priest

Mgr. Félix says he is happy, but he adds energetically: “‘Happy’ seems too little to me. It’s something else that I cannot put into words, because it’s about touching the divinity […]. God gives me joy.”

He wouldn’t change anything in his life; on the contrary, he comments that he would try to improve himself in every way to dedicate himself to God, to his neighbor, and to all creation at all times. “I lean on God to get ahead,” he says, with the confidence that although he can do nothing on his own, God can do everything. 

As advice, he tells young people who are afraid to go to the seminary to “talk to Jesus Christ” because the invitation comes from God. “If they come to understand that it is our Lord Jesus Christ who is inviting them, it’s very difficult to refuse. He gives you everything.”

The priest concludes by saying that he lacks nothing in his life. He needs nothing else but to follow God, because there’s nothing more satisfying in this world than being with Him. “Because everything else fails, but God does not fail,” he concludes.

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Inspiring storiesPriesthood
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