Ordained a priest on 13 December 1969, the future Roman Pontiff discovered his vocation sixteen years earlier, on 21 September 1953, on the feast of Saint Matthew.
Fifty-one years ago today, on 13 December 1969; and just a few days before his thirty-third birthday, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was ordained to the sacred priesthood.
Eleven years earlier, on 11 March 1958, he had entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus where, less than four years after his ordination, he made his perpetual profession on 22 April 1973.
An experience of encounter.
The future Pope discovered his vocation in 1953, on 21 September – the liturgical commemoration of St Matthew. On that day, the 17-year-old Jorge Bergoglio, passing by the parish he normally attended in Buenos Aires, felt the need to go to confession. He found a priest he did not know, and that confession changed his life.
“For me this was an experience of encounter,” Pope Francis later recounted. Speaking at the Pentecost Vigil on 18 May 2013, the Pope said of that long-ago visit to the church, “I found that someone was waiting for me. Yet I do not know what happened, I can’t remember, I do not know why that particular priest was there whom I did not know, or why I felt this desire to confess, but the truth is that someone was waiting for me. He had been waiting for me for some time. After making my confession I felt something had changed. I was not the same. I had heard something like a voice, or a call. I was convinced that I should become a priest.”