In a year when some California lawmakers attacked the core forgiveness ministry of Catholic priests, 44 men were ordained to the sacred priesthood for California, accepting God’s call to serve his people.
Ordinations took place around the state, including the dramatic metropolitan cathedrals of Los Angeles and San Francisco, seven diocesean cathedrals from Sacramento to Orange, parish churches and the chapels of religious orders.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the neighboring Diocese of Orange each joyfully ordained six new priests.
The Monterey diocese ordained four men. Bishops in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Bernardino each ordained three men. San Jose and Stockton each ordained two priests while Fresno and San Diego each ordained one.
Among the religious orders the Jesuit province ordained six men for work in California. The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) ordained two and the Augustinians and Benedictines each ordained one.
Related Video: Bishop Robert Barron – Every Priest is a Jacob’s Ladder
Each new priest’s story is unique, yet they share similar paths. Each listened intently, prayed hard and concluded that it was God asking them to give their life into service as a Catholic priest.
All share their powerful personal vision of the service they want to give their communities as a priest.
Fr. Dean Marshall, ordained for the Sacramento diocese, for instance, was not baptized Catholic until age 20 but he heard his non-Catholic father say “you’re going to be a priest one day!”
Fr. Marshall explains his discernment is “taking a chance and trusting God.”
In Orange Bishop Kevin Vann ordained six new priests in the compelling new Christ Cathedral just ten days after its dedication, Fr. Martin Duc, Fr. Anh Vu, Fr. Daniel Jonguen Seo, Fr. Erialdo Ramírez Alfaro, Fr. Scott Jameson Allen and Fr. Joseph Vincent Squillacioti.
Three are of Vietnamese parentage, reflecting strength of the rapidly growing Orange County Catholic community. (Read about each one here.)
In Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez ordained six men from diverse backgrounds to preach the good news in the sprawling archdiocese of five million Catholics: Fr. Brian Humphrey, Fr. Miguel Ángel Ruiz, Fr. Emmanuel Delfin, Fr.Luther Diaz, Fr. Louis Sung and Fr. José María Ortiz.
“You, my brothers, are called to be the shepherds of God’s people,” Archbishop Gomez told the men. “And Jesus is calling you to do it as he did — serving your brothers and sisters in humility, from the heart, and at a personal sacrifice.
“My dear brothers,” Gomez emphasized, “I have to tell you: it is so exciting to be a priest. I wouldn’t trade my vocation for anything! There is nothing more beautiful than to bring people to the encounter with Jesus Christ, so they can know and love him and imitate him and work to make this world his kingdom.”
Their ordination took place in a packed cathedral, live-streamed so family and friends, some as far away as the Philippines and Mexico, could participate.
For Fr. Humphrey a powerful sign of faith’s enduring power was the careful passing to him of a chalice, by an uncle, also a priest. The sacred vessel had been made for Fr. Humphrey’s great-great uncle’s 1906 ordination in New York, and then passed to succeeding generations of priests in the family. Fr. Humphrey is his family’s fourth generation to celebrate Holy Mass with the chalice.
In the San Bernardino diocese, 1,500 people jammed Rancho Cucamonga’s Sacred Heart parish church for ordination of three priests by Bishop Gerald Barnes.
Fr. Charles ‘Gino’ Galley said it was a “greater power beyond me that I had an encounter with. I cannot explain it. I experienced it as I lay prostrate on the floor and the whole church was singing the Litany of Saints.”
Ordained with him were Fr. Ted Drennan, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Fr. Juan Carlos Lopez.
“I hope to be a good priest,” said Fr. Lopez. “I hope that I will be able to minister to the people and be faithful to them...especially today when we really need good priests. One person can make a difference!”
“We need you. We need you desperately!” Bishop Barnes said. “We need you to help us revitalize our priesthood, our Church, our people. We thank you for saying ‘yes.’ ”
For Monterey, it is the second successive year the relatively small diocese (about 200,000 Catholics) has ordained four men.
Prayer for New Priest
Good Lord, please strengthen and inspire the people who have dedicated their lives to your service--our priests, brothers, sisters and those still in formation. In particular, bring to this year’s newly ordained priests the grace they need to inspire us lay Catholics. Help them to recognize the love that we lay Catholics have for them and our appreciation for the great sacrifices they make to help us follow your way. Keep them always close to you and to us. Amen.
The new priests ordained by Bishop Daniel E. Garcia, are Fr. Miguel Aguayo, Fr. Gerson Espinosa, Fr. Raphael Reniva, and Fr. Karl Tolentino.
In Sacramento, ordained with Fr. Marshall (above) are Fr. Manuel Rodriguez, who grew up in Vallejo’s St. Basil parish, and Fr. Stephen Joseph W. Wood, who grew up in Auburn’s St. Joseph parish.
In San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone ordained three men, and promptly assigned them to parishes to begin learning pastoral skills with veteran pastors and the faithful.
Fr. Kyle Faller is now serving in St. Pius Parish, Redwood City; Fr. Ernesto Jandonero is in St. Hilary Parish in Tiburon; and Fr. Michael P. Rocha is in Church of the Epiphany, San Francisco.
The Fresno diocese celebrated the ordination of Fr. David Alan Lopez by a beaming Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, shortly before the bishop’s spring retirement.
Stockton, the Central Valley’s third diocese, was blessed on July 6 when Bishop Myron J. Cotta ordained Fr. Adrian Cisneros and Fr. Larry Machado.
Fr. Cisneros first felt the call at his grandmother’s funeral, as he felt the impact of the parish priest’s presence.
“I thought--wow, how amazing would it be to be a priest and be able to have such a positive impact on a person or family just by one’s presence!”
Fr. Machado began studies to be a doctor, but soon felt a calling “not to be a medical doctor, but a physician of souls.”
In the San Jose diocese, Bishop Oscar Cantu ordained two of its native sons into the priesthood.
Fr. John Tu Hoang was born and raised in San Jose, the youngest of five children. Early in adult life Fr. Hoang worked a wide variety of jobs, from claims adjusting to disc jockey, before he heard the call to the priesthood.
Fr. Victor M. Trinidad, a Santa Clara native, was in computer science when his pastor, Msgr. Steven Perata, suggested he consider the seminary.
“What started as a simple, unconditional yes to God has grown to an abundance of blessings for me, but not without its crosses,” Fr. Trinidad said. “As Jesus says, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ ” (John 15:13).
In the San Diego diocese, Bishop Robert W. McElroy chose Corpus Christi parish church in Bonita, rather than the Cathedral, to ordain Fr. Michael Maurice O’Connor in his home church.
Born Catholic, Fr. O’Connor recalls growing up largely uninterested in the Church but as a UC Berkeley freshman, a friend invited him to Sunday Mass. That simple act rekindled O’Connor’s interest in his faith. The seed had been planted.
He became a UC San Diego neurobiologist. “As an academic scientist I knew I was helping build a better world,” Fr. O’Connor says. He entered the seminary as he came to realize “I was doing far greater good when my life was aimed toward helping people find God, and so love Him more and more.”
Among the religious orders present in California, four celebrated ordinations to the priesthood this year.
In the Society of Jesus, six new Jesuits are working in California (part of the multi-state Jesuits West province); the Dominicans (Order of Preachers) ordained two men to the priesthood in Oakland and the Augustinians (Order of Saint Augustine) celebrated the ordination last December of one new priest. Finally, the contemplative Benedictine community of monks in Prince of Peace Abbey (Oceanside) celebrated the June ordination of one new priest.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), which collects data and insights into the priesthood in the U.S., projected that 481 men would be ordained into the priesthood this year in the United States.