Many years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the most beautiful programs of formation and leadership. It was called “Living the Unexpected.” I remember that one of the central moments of this program was a walk to the top of a mountain. Abruptly, at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, while all of us youngsters were sleeping, the program coordinators came and woke us up. That’s when the true adventure of living the unexpected began.
The instructions were clear: we only had to bring, in a small backpack, the things that would be needed for the road. We started a long walk towards the mountain top. Joy and enthusiasm overtook all the participants. Many that had complained for having had their sleep interrupted, now looked enthusiastic and one could feel the adrenaline in the environment.
The road was very dark when we started our ascent towards the peak. We could see how some of the youngsters were starting to change their attitude. The group was starting to disperse. Some who had a fast pace, were separating from the slower ones. Others, who had put in their backpacks some things that were totally unnecessary for the road, were now feeling the weight of everything they were carrying. Soon, a moment came when some of the youngsters could not give one more step forward, perhaps due to their physical shape or because their backpacks were very heavy. I remember a young fellow who approached one of the participants that could not carry his backpack and offered to help carry it. This young fellow now was carrying the weight of both his backpack and that of his friend. I saw others, in very good physical shape, continue to walk without offering any help to those that were tired and faltering at the side of the road, demoralized for not being able to keep up. These youngsters appeared to be focused only on reaching the peak and being declared the winners.
By nightfall it was cold and dark, and some walked in pairs, helping one another. Some others couldn’t keep the pace and were simply left behind. At last, the first group arrived at the top. Some arrived 2 or 3 hours later, either because they were slower or because they were motivating others to continue. One could sense the pain in everyone’s bodies. We were all completely exhausted, but happy for having made it.
After this experience, we got together to do the evaluation and determine who had won. Those that arrived first, were happy as they were sure of their victory. Soon, however, their happiness was squelched when the coordinator said, “To go up the mountain, is the same as going up the mountain of our lives.” The coordinator explained that sometimes we want to have and carry with us so many material things that are unnecessary, but with which we make an emotional connection. These things are not needed and the only thing they do, at certain moments, is weigh us down and overburden us. Other times, as on the mountain, we don’t notice that the person walking by our side, for whatever reason or circumstance needs our help, because we are so focused on ourselves.
So how do we win on the mountain of our life? To reach victory, a life in the faith invites us to walk with others, to not be an egotist, to carry only what is truly necessary, and to live the unexpected. After all, at the end of our days, when we arrive at our final goal, Christ will take into account how we have lived. Christ will see our solidarity with our brothers and sisters and our detachment from the unnecessary, and looking at our eyes He’ll say, “Welcome,” Let’s think about and reflect on how we are walking and climbing the mountains of our lives.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Deacon Franklin came to know Christ as a child thanks to his grandfather, Nicasio Mejía. Nicasio introduced Franklin to the spiritual life and the doctrine of the Catholic faith. Because of this, Franklin was a very active member of the Salesian youth groups in his community from a very young age and, as he grew older, he received training to become a youth leader.
Upon arriving in the United States, Franklin worked for the Hispanic Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston organizing sports tournaments, youth leadership training programs, and an outreach ministry dedicated to visiting youth in prison. Deacon Franklin’s passion for evangelization led him to Catholic Television, where he was the host and producer of “Good News.” His desire to evangelize through the media was inspired by Pope John Paul II, who encouraged the Church to use all media to present Christ to others.
Ordained in 2014, Deacon Franklin was assigned to Sacred Hearts Parish in Malden and he continues his work at the Catholic Television Network, Boston in charge of the production of The Holy Mass.
He has been happily married to his wife, Wendy, for 18 years and they are the proud parents of Gabriel Andres, 17 and Isabella María, 13.