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placeholder Parish celebrates 100 years of beauty, diversity

Deacon Mendoza to become diocese’s youngest priest

New parochial administrator brings bicultural experience to Concord parish

Ministry and religious community go hand in hand

Sister Prejean poems to be featured by Oakland East Bay Symphony

‘Sober’ report on religious orders
includes profile of newest members

Catholic Charities launches medical assistant program

Boy Scouts celebrate 100 years

During visit to Malta, Pope meets abuse victims, expresses shame, sorrow

Vatican offers online summary of clerical sex abuse procedures

Setting the record straight on media coverage

San Jose Diocese goes solar at Catholic schools, cemetery

Iceland worries about long-term impact of volcano

Eco-friendly burials at Catholic cemetery

Religious leaders urged veto of Arizona immigration bill

China’s Catholic Charities aids earthquake survivors

Bishops take action against nuns over health care reform

• Sister Virginia Fabilli, SSS
• Retired Bishop McFarland, a native of Martinez

placeholder April 26 , 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA
Deacon Mendoza to become diocese’s youngest priest

Deacon Ian Mendoza

When he is ordained to the priesthood on May 14, twenty-seven-year-old Deacon Ian Mendoza will be the youngest priest in the Oakland Diocese.

While he considers his age an asset, his youthfulness was a challenge when, at age 20, he entered St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and found himself among classmates in their late 30s and 40s and 50s. “Imagine the age gap,” he said.

In recent months serving at St. Mary Parish in Walnut Creek, he has been working with junior high school students in a faith formation program he set up at the pastor’s request. . “They do ask a lot of questions,” he said. Many don’t want to go to church or even to faith formation classes, so he aims to have the kids “enjoy every Tuesday when they come to class. I want it to be kid-friendly.”
Holy Hour at cathedral on
eve of ordination

Local Catholics are invited to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and pray for Deacon Ian Mendoza on the eve of his ordination to the priesthood from 7 – 9 p.m. on May 13 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. This special gathering will be the first of three “Adoration of the Eves” sponsored by the Confraternity of Eucharistic Devotion, Diocese of Oakland (CEDDO).

Other “Adoration of the Eves” will take place before the transitional diaconate ordination on Oct. 22 and the Walk for Life in January 2011. For more information about CEDDO visit the website, www.ceddo.org, or send inquiries to ceddo@oakdiocese.org.
As much as he enjoys working with youth, he stressed that as a priest he will not limit himself to a single ministry. “That is your calling, being open to everything,” he said. “That is what I promised to do as a deacon and I pledge to do the same as a priest.”

Mendoza’s vocation was nourished in his childhood. Born in Bulacan province in the Philippines, he was raised in what he describes as a “very religious” family. “Every Sunday the first thing the family did was go to church, then after Mass we could do everything else.” As he grew up, he was an altar server and member of the parish choir.

After graduating from a Catholic elementary school, he attended a high school minor seminary. Then he enrolled in a “regular college. I was testing myself to see if I wanted to become a priest,” he said. Although he felt a longing to go back to the seminary, he valued his year in college, including having young women as classmates.

“My eyes were opened to a wider perspective, having different cultures in front of me and meeting people from different upbringings,” he said. “It was a good experience. I am still in contact with those classmates.”

He entered the University of Santo Tomas, the largest seminary in the Philippines, and finished his philosophy studies. Then he faced a major decision. He could apply to St. Patrick’s Seminary and seek ordination in the Oakland Diocese or study at the National University of Singapore which would have led to an academic career.

“It took a lot of prayer and reflection to decide what to do with my life,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘What am I being called to do’?”

He chose the Oakland Diocese in part because he would be near family (his grandmother lives in San Leandro) and because he wanted to minister in a parish setting. “I am a people person,” he said.

While at St. Patrick’s Seminary, he did pastoral work at Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont. “It is an amazing experience to be with people, not just books,” he said. “While there are a lot of things to learn in the seminary, you learn so much in the parish church.”

After his pastoral year in Fremont, he served at St. Michael Parish in Livermore, where he received a lot of affirmation and support from Father Robert Mendonca, pastor, and members of the parish.

He has provided pastoral care to the sick and visited death row inmates at San. Quentin. But the most powerful ministry he has encountered is a deeply personal one — helping his father, who had been stricken with pancreatic cancer, prepare for death.

“It was the most painful thing I had to go through in life,” he said. “You know theology — life and death — but what if it hits you straight in the heart. How do you deal with that?”

For several months after the diagnosis he crisscrossed the Pacific to spend time with his father as well as his mother and older sisters. Because of his father’s condition, he received permission to be ordained to the diaconate in the Philippines.

Three months after the ordination, Luis Mendoza died at the age of 54.

That year dramatically changed how the deacon looks at life and ministry. “It was tough. I still grieve, it still makes me sad,” he said. “I think it makes me more effective as a minister. I experienced pain and can be with others who are experiencing pain.”

As his ordination to the priesthood approaches, Deacon Mendoza is grateful for the support and prayers of the many friends he has made in the parishes where he has served. He issued a personal invitation to the diocesan community to attend his ordination, May 14 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, beginning at 7 p.m. on May 14.

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