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Monday, June 2, 2008

"Record set as 6 men ordained to priesthood in Chino Hills"

I know there is supposed to be a vocations "shortage", but in Diocese after Diocese I keep reading of record numbers of priests being ordained. Perhaps the tide is finally changing.

From the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
By Joe Nelson

CHINO HILLS - Catholics across San Bernardino and Riverside counties rejoiced Saturday at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in celebration of the Diocese of San Bernardino's 30th anniversary and the ordination of six men to priesthood.
It was the largest number of seminarians ordained to priesthood in a single year in the history of the diocese.

"We ordained seven in the last 10 years," said John Andrews, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, which represents between 1 million and 1.2 million parishioners and 269 priests in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. "It's a bumper crop this year . . . It's a blessing to have this number of men called to the priesthood."

Not a single seat was empty during the standing room only event at the diocese's largest church. Some people brought lawn chairs and sat in the church corridor.

The ordained were: Erik Lawrence Esparza of Holy Family Parish in Hesperia, Jorge Alberto Garcia Ayala of Our Lady of Solitude Parish in Palm Springs, Javier Gonzalez Cabrera of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Riverside, Luis Alberto Guido de la Cruz of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Rialto, Minh Toan Nguyen of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Riverside and Eduardo Aguirre of St. Christopher Parish in Moreno Valley.

"God has presented us these men to our priesthood. We are grateful to our God," Bishop Gerald Barnes said during the service, which ran nearly four hours.

The six new priests will be assigned to new parishes. They received thunderous applause from parishioners once Barnes announced their acceptance to the priesthood.

It typically takes about 10 years to become a priest - about as much time as it takes to become a doctor. Five of the six men ordained Saturday went through that process together, starting at the diocese's Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace before moving on to St. John's Seminary in Camarillo and then the Assumption Seminary and Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

"That's the amazing thing," said Barnes, adding that the diocese generally loses about 20 percent of its seminarians on the road to priesthood.

The diocese also had a record number of seminarians this year, 34. But that number was dwindled to 28 after Saturday's ordinations.

Newly ordained Guido started contemplating priesthood at 22. He's now 35.

"I saw this as an opportunity to be of service to the church and to the people," he said.

His sister, Martha Guido, of San Bernardino couldn't have been more grateful.

"I'm grateful to God because he chose my brother to be his worker," she said. "I'm very proud to be Catholic."

Newly ordained Esparza, 27, said he has already been assigned by the diocese to St. Joseph Parish in Barstow. He will leave his current parish in Hesperia and begin serving in Barstow on July 1.

He said Saturday was a long time coming.

It was just as big a day for his family.

"It's a glorious day for all of us," said his mother, Rose Esparza, of Hesperia. She said her mother, Crucita McLean - Erik's grandmother - recently turned 81.

Afflicted by various health ailments throughout the years and a brush with death several months ago, McLean held on, waiting for the day when she could officially call her grandson a priest, Rose Esparza said.

"She's been really toughing it out the last couple of months, waiting for this day," she said. "She said she wasn't going anywhere until this day came."

1 comment:

A Simple Sinner said...

"Perhaps the tide is finally changing."

That is the understatement of the year!

I emphatically say that the tide HAS turned, and now we are just watching it get stronger and stronger.

A little secret? Yount enthusiastic young priests, recruit more of the same by their example and enthusiasm... And the seminaries I have visited are now PACKED with all-American, baseball lovin', rosary prayin', Rome obeyin', Eucharistic adorin' healthy young men.

As more and more of them finish the seminary and get ordained, expect them to recruit and send back two new fellas. Ditto for the growing orthodox Sisters.

Things are looking up - way up.

Thanks be to God.