When Father Fernando Ayala came from El Salvador at the age of 16 to live with his mother in Chelsea, he said he was excited to enjoy the riches of the country and get things he couldn’t get in El Salvador.
However, in El Salvador he had been struck by the idea of becoming a priest and had seriously considered it as a young teen. That, he said, was something that he said he thought would disappear when he arrived in America.
In fact, he was excited to “get stuff,” he told the Boston Pilot.
The plan was for him to come to Chelsea and help his mother financially, send money back to family in El Salvador, and hopefully put some money in his own pocket.
However, that materialistic mindset soon gave way to questioning such things, and as his spiritual life in St. Rose Church in Chelsea grew, so did his idea of what he wanted to do with his life. He was greatly influenced by a visit of the St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Order, who visited St. Rose when he was a teen-ager. That encounter caused him to change his values and priorities.
“I came to this country because I wanted to get stuff, and then suddenly I see this group of people who want just to get rid of stuff,” he told the Pilot. “They don’t own anything. So, there is something radical that I saw there, and something that was pushing me to examine exactly what I’m doing in my life.”
He had attended Chelsea High School upon arriving in the city, and to keep his immigration status alive, he had to remain a full-time student. So, he began to explore colleges, but while doing that, some mentors at St. Rose invited him to participate in a retreat.
That was something that really made up his mind to go the way of the priesthood.
Born on Oct. 6, 1994, in Santa Ana, El Salvador, Father Ayala Rosales is the oldest of the seven children of Julian and Maritza Rosales Ayala.
Prior to his family immigrating to the United States he attended school in his native El Salvador. His family settled in Chelsea, and still are members of St. Rose of Lima Parish.
His earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Providence College, Providence, R.I. in 2017 and the master’s in divinity by St. John’s Seminary in May 2021.
He carried out his diaconal ministry at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Brookline. Last Sunday, May 23, Father Ayala Rosales celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary, Brookline at 11 a.m. His deacon supervisor and the parish pastor, Father Jonathan M. Gaspar was the homilist.