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  May 23, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 11Oakland, CA

articles list

Ordinations to bring four new priests to Oakland Diocese

Jesuit colleges to use endowments
to push collective social agenda

Church leaders mobilize to counter anti-immigrant laws

Anglicans, Catholics reach common ground on Mary

Pope puts John Paul II on fast track to sainthood

Retiring Danville pastor reflects on his priesthood

Oakland community grieves tragic death of a Holy Names Sister

Diocesan director of parish catechetical outreach named

Book relates life of California woman
who lives, ministers in Tijuana jails

Like gardening, prayer takes determination and patience

























Ordinations to bring four new priests
to Oakland Diocese

The Oakland Diocese welcomed three new priests on May 20 at St. Felicitas Church in San Leandro. Bishop Allen Vigneron presided at the ordination ceremony of Fathers Glenn Naguit, Joseph Nguyen and Clarence Zamora. On June 3 Bishop Emeritus John Cummins will ordain Aidan McAleenan at his home parish in Ireland.

Glenn Naguit
Glenn Naguit always knew that he would be working in some type of ministry in the Catholic Church. But for the longest time he did not know exactly what form of ministry he would fully embrace.

He served as a lector at his parish, St. Joseph in Pinole. For a time he also volunteered in the parish’s social justice ministry. “But I felt I could do more,” he said.

Although the thought of becoming a priest had been with him throughout his teen years, the idea had always been in the background. Then, in 1997 and 1998, he began to pay serious attention to the call to religious life. He called Father Jerry Kennedy, then vocations director of the Oakland Diocese, and began the process that took him to St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park.

He commended the training he received there “Not only was the training there academic, but also spiritual, communitarian, human and pastoral. The formation there is truly holistic,” he said.

The eldest of four children, Father Naguit, 36, was born in Manila in the Philippines. He was 14 when his family immigrated to the U.S.

After graduating from the University of California in Davis, he worked for five years in the customer service department of the Internal Revenue Service. When his department was slated for closure, he found work in a public relations firm/ reading service in San Francisco, a position he kept for two years. He also worked for a small local newspaper as a freelance contributor.

He was drawn to the priesthood because of the priest’s role of service in the faith community. “Being a priest for me means serving the people of God with love, celebrating with them and for them the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist,” he said.

It also means making Christ present to them and helping to “break open” the word of God through preaching, and “walking with God’s people in their journey of faith.”

When he revealed his intention to pursue the priesthood, his family and friends provided strong affirmation and support. His parents, he said, have been “especially supportive. Their presence throughout my years of formation has been a great encouragement to me.”

The new priest spent his pastoral year before ordination at St. Jerome Parish in El Cerrito, where he said he experienced the welcome, kindness, love and encouragement of parishioners.

“I am exited and looking forward to serving the people of God,” he said of his new assignment as a parochial vicar at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, effective June 1.

Joseph Nguyen
Just two weeks before his May 20 ordination to the priesthood, Father Joseph Nguyen couldn’t disguise the emotion in his voice as he talked about the much-anticipated day.

“I am very excited. I am looking forward to doing ministry, to be there with the people,” he said, noting that he had just completed nine years in the seminary. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

Father Nguyen’s journey to priesthood started long before his seminary studies. Born in Nong Nai, Vietnam, he grew up in a “very Catholic” family that included five brothers and two sisters.

Although able to practice their faith in Vietnam, his parents felt that the family would have a chance at a better future elsewhere. They left Vietnam in 1990 when Joseph was 13. After spending six months in a refugee camp in the Philippines – where he learned some English – the family joined members of their extended family in Wisconsin. However, one winter in Wisconsin proved to be too much for the immigrants and the family moved to a warmer climate, settling in San Leandro near other family members.

Joseph enrolled at San Leandro High School and began riding his bike every morning to St. Leander Church for Mass. One day Father Ricardo Chavez, the pastor, asked him if he had ever thought about being a priest. That question remained with him throughout his teenage years.

He talked with both Father Chavez and his successor, Father John Prochaska, about his vocation. He began to look at the parish as a home away from home and Father Prochaska as an important mentor.

Father Prochaska “was so good to me,” Nguyen said. “It was very noisy at home, but it was nice at the parish,” he recalled.

To help support his family, he worked at Catholic cemeteries in the diocese.

After graduating from San Leandro High in 1996, he enrolled at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in New Mexico and went to Santa Fe College, a Catholic college one hour away from the seminary.

He studied philosophy there for two years until the archbishop of Santa Fe closed the seminary. He then moved to San Diego to attend the University of San Diego where he earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies.

In September 2000, he entered St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park. Two years later he spent a “wonderful” pastoral year at St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish in Oakland.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “I learned how to listen to people, how to talk to people, how to love people, how to be a good man, how to be a good priest.”

He said the parishioners were very supportive of his vocation. “People prayed for me every day,” he said. “I feel fortunate, blessed.”

As he begins his life as parochial vicar at St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek, Father Nguyen, 28, said he is more excited about what awaits him than nervous. “Whatever responsibilities that are given to me, God will give me the grace to do it.”

Clarence Zamora
Clarence Zamora believes that his vocation to the priesthood has been in him since his youth. But for the man who became one of the diocese’s newest priests at age 58 on May 20, the journey to ordination involved a lengthy and winding route.

“I thought my vocation was teaching,” said the Albuquerque, N.M., native who spent some of his childhood in Los Angeles and Hawaii. After graduating from the University of Hawaii, he spent the next 30 years as a public school teacher in

“I was very happy, I loved teaching,” he said. “It was very fulfilling.”

In addition to teaching, he took on the care of his ailing parents. After both his parents died, the veteran educator found himself looking at his future and realized that he “always wanted to be a priest.”

He went into priestly formation for the Honolulu Diocese, which brought him to the San Francisco Bay Area where he entered St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park at the age of 49.

He remained in formation at St. Patrick’s until he had completed his pastoral year at St. Leander in San Leandro and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fremont.

Then he decided to return to teaching, which ironically helped to affirm his vocation to the priesthood. During a teacher’s strike, one of his friends asked Zamora to lead the teachers in prayer. After his initial surprise at the request, he went on to lead the faculty in morning and evening prayer for every day of the three-week strike.

“People later told me that the prayers were the best part of the strike,” Father Zamora said. With that affirmation, he retired from teaching and returned to the seminary to conclude his studies.

Father Zamora used the word “great” to describe his seminary years. “You are in a community of prayer with people who are dedicated to serving God,” he said. “And you had people, some old guys like me, and some guys of different backgrounds, people who had been in academics, engineering, education, music, all different walks of life. We’ve all had been called to do this.”

During his seminary studies he worked on developing his skills in Spanish. Although his family traces their roots to Spain, Father Zamora said he was not taught Spanish at home while he was growing up. He picked it up in grade school and in high school but, he noted, there wasn’t much opportunity to use those skills in Hawaii.

Last summer he traveled to Mexico to work on his Spanish and has been pleased with his progress. “As a matter of fact one of my instructors said my pronunciation is very good, but I have to work on my verbs,” he said.

Father Zamora noted with gratitude that he has been on the receiving end of many spiritual gifts. Many came in the form of prayers and spoken support from members of parishes he spent time with during his formation.

“There are so many people that see something in you that you don’t see in yourself and they believe in you and you end up feeling good. And that helps you go over little hurdles of doubt,” he said.

As he begins living his second vocation, Father Zamora could not be more thrilled. “I am happy that I have the health and the ability to do it. I thank God,” he said.

“I tell people that I like to think that God puts a hook in you and sometimes he lets you run your line out and then very slowly he starts to reel you in. In my case he has kind of reeled me in and had me filleted and gutted and pan-fried already.
And I’m very happy about it.”

His first assignment will be at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Concord, effective June 1.

Aidan McAleenan
When Aidan McAleenan, 42, is ordained to the priesthood in Ireland on June 3, it will be a ceremony mixed with laughter and tears.

The ordination will take place at his parish church, St. Patrick’s Church in Banbridge, County Down, where he was baptized, received his First Communion and was confirmed. It is also the church where he participated in the funeral Masses of his mother and brother last year.

“It will be emotionally very charged, but I know that my family in heaven will be united with my family on earth to celebrate this long-awaited moment,” he said.

McAleenan was an eight-year-old altar boy when he first shared with his parents and a local priest that he had a religious vocation.

He remembers clearly his mother’s response, “Son, if God wants you to become a priest, then a priest you will be.”

His journey to priesthood, however, took a lengthy path. On his 19th birthday, he joined the Redemptorist Order and studied philosophy and history at the University of Galway for two years.

He then went to the seminary in Maynooth, Dublin, for two years of theological study after which he left the Redemptorists and came to the U.S. as an exchange student.

He worked in grounds maintenance, construction and as a special education teacher before securing a position in 1988 as administrator of a new AIDS hospice with Catholic Charities in San Francisco.

He oversaw the operation of this and another facility in the Western Addition for five years, then became administrator of a new $18 million
complex for families in the Tenderloin.

“This was one of the best jobs I have ever had,” he recalled. “I was so happy in that community, I had an excellent staff and I loved my work with the families.”

Then he served as a supervisor of about 10 facilities sponsored by Mercy Housing.

Despite the lure of his work as an administrator,
McAleenan continued to feel a growing called to priesthood.

He enrolled at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and later spent his pastoral year at St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord

“I totally fell in love with each and everyone of the parishioners and pastoral staff,” he said. “I learned so much at St. Bonaventure under the leadership of Father Richard Mangini. He is a model of love and service and I hope to become half the priest that he is.”

McAleenan’s first assignment as a priest will be as parochial vicar at Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill.

“I will bring a loving heart ready to serve. I bring a wealth of experience and a love of the Church with eyes fixed firmly on Christ. I am really looking forward to working with Father Brian Joyce and the pastoral team and most importantly the community at Christ the King,” he said.

Father Glenn Naguit

Father Joseph Nguyen

Father Clarence Zamora

Father Aidan McAleenan

Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland

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