From Colombia to the World
My name is Yermith Yensy Florez Lopez, I was born on the 24 of July 1982 in a beautiful hamlet called Las Flores which belongs to the municipality of Morroa, located in the department of Sucre a few kilometers away from the capital city Sincelejo.
I was brought up in a beautiful home made up of my parents and my four siblings. My Dad Miriel Faustino Florez Solorzano a very humble, simple and respectful man with a good sense of humor was so much dedicated to his occupation on the field while my mother; Justiniana María Lopez Buelvas, as a great hard working, generous, humble and cheerful woman was also dedicated to her tasks of the home.
As a young child, I was struck by the works of the missionaries and everything that is related to the mission and for that reason, I was moved to join the Infant Missionary group at the time and later the youth group of my community Las Flores. This has made it possible for me to intensify as well as clarify my desire to become a consecrated religious missionary. Thanks to the space and agents of evangelization through whose participation and animation during the important liturgical celebrations such as the Holy Week and Christmas festivities which became the source and motivation for my vocation.
It is where I felt the call of God to become His close follower. This to me is a call which requires no delay in response, because the more it delays, the more frustrating and regretful one becomes of disobedience to God’s call. The most important thing is to have a deep moment of prayer and discernment in order to clarify and give a good response to the invitation of Jesus and at the right moment.
It is in line with this process of discernment that I wish with love and affection to thank the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Help of Christians and the Villa Bernarda, who with great dedication did not only accompanied me during my vocational discernment process but have also given me and many other young people of my community a good professional formation for the rests of our life. They accompanied me during my discernment process and have helped me to broaden my horizons towards the religious life. It is through this that I had the opportunity to get to know more closely about the Divine Word Missionaries and their charism, and thanks to my uncle Fr. Edinson Méndez, SVD for sharing his experiences with me and for the visits he made with his SVD companions to our family and community.
With a strong desire to become a consecrated religious missionary, I joined the Congregation of the Divine Word Missionaries on 28 January 2006, at the Divine word Formation House located in the city of Medellín in Colombia where I underwent my first two stages of initial formation and thus; the Propaedeutic and Postulancy for the years 2006 and 2007. This was a beautiful experience which helped me to get to know more about the Divine Word Missionaries, to discover the other horizons of pastoral evangelization, to challenge myself as a person in my desire to become a missionary and above all, to detach myself a little more from my family and community.
Later on, in 2008, I traveled to Quito in Ecuador to continue with the next stage of my formation which was the novitiate. This has been another experience which allowed me to immerse myself deep into the spirituality of the congregation, with its history and foundation as well as its internationality. It was at this stage of the formation that I professed my first Religious Vows also known as the Evangelical Councils.
I later returned to Colombia in 2009 to continue my Post-Novitiate formation at the St. Joseph Freinademetz Formation House in Bogotá, where I undertook a degree programme in Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical University of Javeriana. After two years of studies at the university, I requested to undergo an Oversea Training Programme (OTP) for an intercultural and mission experience in Kenya in Africa as part of my training. My request was successfully granted and so I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya, making it necessary to abandon my studies at the university at the time for the next three years (2011-2013). It was an enriching experience which allowed me to learn a new language and culture as well as to know and live the internationality of the SVD and above all to challenge myself as a missionary.
In 2014 I successfully completed my experience in Kenya and returned to Colombia to continue with my studies till 2016 and concluded with my degree on 27 February in the following year. On 25 March of the same year 2017, I was ordained a Deacon by his Lordship Monsignor Edgardo Cedeño in the Divine Word parish of Garcés Navas in Bogotá. I practiced my diaconal ministry in the parish of Our Lady of Las Mercedes de Vigía del Fuerte located in the Middle of Atrato. During this time, I had the opportunity to share with the Afro-Colombians and the Emberá Katios indigenous people while simultaneously preparing for my priestly ordination.
On 13 January 2018, I was finally ordained to the Priesthood in my home parish of San Blas de Morroa by His Lordship Monsignor José Clavijo Méndez of the Diocese of Sincelejo. It was one of the best and unforgettable moments for me. Among the people present were my family, my brothers from the community, the diocesan clergy and the community in general to accompany me. This event ended with the celebration of my first Mass in my community of Las Flores, on January 14 in the place where I was born and grew up.
Finally, as a new Presbyter of the Catholic Church and a member of the Divine Word Missionary congregation, I am prepared for my new mission to Kenya, the same place where I had my intercultural and pastoral (OTP) experience earlier. I believe it will be a beautiful opportunity to return and to continue announcing the Good News of the Incarnate Word among the people of Kenya. May the Spirit of the Risen One accompany me in this mission.