Costa Rican Priest Shares His Journey From Intelligence Agent to the Catholic Priesthood

Father Guillén, 52, said that he responded to God’s call when he was 24.

Father Luis Enrique Guillén.
Father Luis Enrique Guillén. (photo: Archdiocese of San José)

Father Luis Enrique Guillén left a police career in the National Intelligence and Security Directorate of Costa Rica to give his life to the Lord in the Catholic priesthood.

“The experience of the priesthood is very beautiful. It has been a bit of everything, but I can openly say that nothing I gained before compares to what God has given me in this ministry,” Father Guillén, a priest now for more than 20 years, said in a recent interview with the Costa Rican channel Teletica.

The priest recounted that, before becoming a priest, he had several jobs and even had a girlfriend.

“After leaving school, my first job was as a school teacher. Later, I took a position at the Juan Santamaría Airport in flight operations, and then I spent seven years working in the Intelligence and Security Directorate (DIS),” he commented.

The DIS is a police agency under the Ministry of the Presidency of Costa Rica. According to its regulations, its functions include “intelligence and investigations” to “ensure the security of the State.”

Father Guillén said that “in the DIS I worked for seven years and so I still maintain a connection, but [now] as a chaplain. After working for that time, [I] began the whole vocational discernment process.”

Father Guillén, 52, said that he responded to God’s call when he was 24.

“At 24 years of age, I think that maturity and the passing of the years made me question what I wanted, where to go. That made me wonder: ‘And why not what I had once thought about ?’” he recalled.

“Back then I even had a girlfriend, I talked to my parents and told them that I wanted to give myself a chance at the seminary, whether it was three weeks, three months, or three years. And here I am, I am already on my way to 21 years of priesthood and 10 years of being a chaplain for the Costa Rican Public (police) Force,” he added.

Father Guillen also noted that the priesthood means learning to renounce material goods and trusting fully in God’s providence.

“It’s giving up credit cards, a monthly salary, and starting to depend a lot on divine providence, which is manifested through the charitable action of people or depending again, a little, on the family,” he said.

Finally, he stressed that “God never fails, he is always faithful,” because he “always gives us what we need.”

Father Guillén was recently installed as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the city of Curridabat in San José province. He was ordained on March 19, 2002.