Fr. Llanos currently serves as the regional superior for Jamaica and is acting chairman of St. George's College. He also lectures at St. Michael's Theological College."What makes me happy to be a religious today?"
For me, happiness and an easy life have never been equated, though there are certainly days when I might wish for more comfort and less stress. Nevertheless, I am certain that if I had never entered the Jesuits, I would never have been challenged from day to day to do things of which I never thought myself capable, and in so doing find God's purpose for which he created me.
I still remember sitting in Toronto's Pearson International Airport waiting to begin my journey to Venezuela to start my four years of theology. Though having lived the first 11 years of my life a mere 15 miles from Venezuela, I had never been to Venezuela, and my Spanish was embarrassingly poor for someone sporting a Hispanic last name. As I sat there, I thought, "What am I doing, I know no one there; my Spanish is awful." I wanted to phone my formation director and tell him that he'd made a terrible mistake in saying 'yes' to this. But what followed was an encounter with a group of Jesuits living in the heart of one of the more violent barrios in Caracas, and an encounter with a neighbourhood, though often torn by violence, also filled with the joy and life of God. There I forged friendships with Jesuits filled with zeal and found a sense of mission directed at a life in service and communion with the poor. Two years later when I made my first trip back to my home province, my first act upon arrival in province was to secure a ticket for my return to Venezuela.
Today I'm back working in Jamaica where I first went in 1990. Jamaica, like Venezuela, challenged, and still challenges me. It has been a place where I've met great joy among a people I love, but also have known the shock and sorrow of the violent death of a Jesuit friend. It is a place of struggle to make ends meet, but also a place where I can preside a service filled with vibrant music and praises, and know God's pleasure. I am ever more convinced that the greatest abundance of grace is found at the margins of our societies, and the Jesuit life has allowed me to be there. For me, I really cannot imagine encountering Christ Jesus as profoundly, and being as fulfilled, in any other life.