The place of vocation aspiration for Father Luis M. Silva Cervantes was the city of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco in his native Mexico. The place of vocation realization for Father Silva, 35, is the Archdiocese of New York.
“I was only nine years old, that’s when I first shared with my mother that I wanted to be a priest,” Father Silva told Catholic New York. “I wanted to be like my parish priest.” Father Silva said that he struggled with his faith as a teenager. When he was 20, his mother died after battling breast cancer. She was his first faith mentor.
“It was at her funeral Mass that for the first time in a long time I felt this peace, and I started going to Mass again,” he said, adding that his older brother Alfredo, an active church volunteer, helped him to restore his faith at that time. (Alfredo was his second faith mentor).
He noted that his priestly discernment was a bit complicated. “I first came here from Mexico in 2012 to study at Dunwoodie (first at the minor seminary in Douglaston, Queens, to study ESL). I left after 15 months in December 2013 and returned in April 2016.” He explained there was back and forth in his discernment, citing an earlier intention to eventually marry and raise a family.
“I was finally able to see clearly that this is what God wants, that this is the vocation where I was going to be absolutely happy,” Father Silva said. “I knew that He would use me as an instrument to reach out to his people—to help them hear the message of salvation and love.”
In recent years, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard in Manhattan has been his home parish. His childhood parish was Santa Martha in Guadalajara.
He is the son of Julio Silva Anaya and Maria Guadalupe Cervantes Hernandez; his mother died in October 2005. His brothers are Alfredo Silva Cervantes and Victor Silva Cervantes, and his sister is Maria Guadalupe Silva Cervantes.
Father Silva earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2012 from Seminario de Señor San José in Guadalajara. He graduated from a high school called Centro Universitario UTEG, in Guadalajara.
The first apostolic assignment for Father Silva was serving at the Immigration Center of Mercy Center in the Bronx, helping Hispanic immigrants with immigration forms, from January to May 2017. The second assignment was at St. Joseph Medical Center in Yonkers, where he visited and brought Communion to the sick in the hospital and to the elderly in the nursing home section, from September 2017 to May 2018.
His third apostolic assignment was at the Westchester County Department of Correction in Valhalla, where he visited prisoners in the Solutions (substance abuse) section, and assisted with formative and motivational talks in the mental health section, from September 2018 to May 2019.
His diaconate assignment at Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady in Tuckahoe, November 2019 to March 2020, was shortened because of Covid-19 restrictions. His summer parish assignments were at Sacred Heart in the Bronx, St. Joseph in Middletown, and Calvary Hospital and Holy Cross parish in the Bronx.
Father Silva will offer his first Mass, in English and Spanish, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scarsdale, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. The homilist will be Father Thomas A. Lynch, the pastor, whom Father Silva regards as a friend and his third faith mentor.