A Life’s Journey

Dear St. Mar􏰀n of Tours Family,

I grew up a Bruin. My father, Pablo, who was born and raised in Lincoln Heights, a town bordering downtown Los Angeles, would drive out to the Westwood campus on Friday a􏰁ernoons. This was his weekly ritual a􏰁er he returned from serving in World War II. The purpose? To see the UCLA football team prac􏰀ce. He LOVED
anything that had to do with UCLA athle􏰀cs, especially football! He would explain to me the route he would take to get there, as the Santa Monica Freeway did not exist then and how the campus did not look anything like it does now. In the 1970’s he began purchasing season 􏰀ckets to the football games and thus began the Sustayta Family tradi􏰀on, Saturday’s at the Colosseum!

With my father, I started going to ALL the UCLA football games while a student at All Saints Catholic School in Los Angeles. I remember the tailga􏰀ng par􏰀es or ea􏰀ng a delicious packed lunch or dinner prepared by my mother. Some􏰀mes she would join us, but she knew this was father-son bonding 􏰀me. How I looked forward to those weekend games, especially when UCLA played USC, usually the Friday a􏰁er Thanksgiving.

In the spring, it was 􏰀me to travel to Westwood. The purpose? To watch the Bruins play basketball at Pauley Pavilion. These were fun days as my father took me on a tour of the campus either before or a􏰁er the game. His inten􏰀on was clear, to begin plan􏰀ng the seed in my ear that I should consider a􏰂ending the University in the future. It worked and I was determined to go to UCLA. This was my boyhood dream and the path was being paved to make this happen.

In 1978, I applied and was accepted to St. Francis High School in La Canada, Flintridge. I began my Freshman
year in the fall. I loved St. Francis, the Capuchin priests and brothers and the life-long friendships which were cemented during those years. While the possibility of a priestly voca􏰀on was s􏰀ll being considered and was a part of my journey as a teen, I immersed myself in High School life and its many opportuni􏰀es. I remember my Junior and Senior years being the most fun due to the many extracurricular ac􏰀vi􏰀es in which I was involved; The Knight Breeze staff (our school newspaper), Honor Society, Hispanic Society, and Track Team, just to name a few.

Senior year arrived fast and it was 􏰀me to fill out those college applica􏰀ons, I believe they were much easier back then, than now. UCLA was my number one choice, followed by LMU and St. John’s Seminary College in Camarillo. I remember those days and weeks as very tense, wondering which colleges I would be accepted into or not. Then one day in the Spring of 1982, I returned home from school where I found three le􏰂ers one from each of the colleges I had applied to. Needless to say, I opened the le􏰂er from UCLA first. I was accepted! I was also accepted to LMU and St. John’s. I heard my father outside in the backyard and I ran out to relay the good news. I will always remember the smile on his face and the pride which his eyes could not betray, as he listened to the news. Although I was elated, especially by my acceptance to UCLA, something inside me was calling me to pause and really discern for the first 􏰀me.

This decision, I knew, whatever it would be, would truly shape and impact my life forever. As a typical teen, s􏰀ll looking to a parent to make important decisions for them, I asked my father what I should do. I was not surprised by his response, and it was not what I wanted to hear, he said, in a very loving and fatherly way, “I cannot make that decision for you Paul.”

More to follow next week!

Susana Nieto