|May 9, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 9 • Oakland, CA|
| Three to be ordained to the priesthood on May 13
Three men — two from the Philippines and one from El Salvador — will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, at 7 p.m. May 13 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.
After college graduation, he spent a year teaching in the seminary, then began teaching in Catholic schools and high schools.
"After seven years, I came here to study theology at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park," he said. In doing so, he left his family behind. With the exception of a sister in the United Kingdom, the rest of the Carillo family remains in the Philippines.
But he has not been without the support of his family, no matter how far he has traveled. "One good thing about my experience here, despite the absence of my family, there are a lot of good-hearted people who became my mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters," he said.
"I had so much love in all the assignments, he said noting especially St. Edward Parish in Newark, and St. Anthony Parish in Oakley, and the pastors he served, Rev. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, when he was at St. Edward, and Rev. Ken Sales at St. Anthony.
"I am truly grateful for that," he said.
As he approached ordination, Rev. Mr. Carillo was offered a list of potential mentors. As he looked it over, he chose Rev. George Alengadan, pastor of St. Joseph Basilica Parish in Alameda.
Upon receiving his first assignment, Rev. Mr. Carillo has to make a change. He will be serving as parochial vicar at St. Joseph.
"I thought it was providential that the mentor I wanted is now my pastor," said Rev. Mr. Carillo. "It's a blessing."
But, "Now I have to look for a different mentor," he said.
He looks forward to life on the island, which he was introduced to by Deacon Jimmy Macalinao, who later entered the seminary.
Before beginning his assignment, "I have to go back to the Philippines, primarily to process my change of visa status." He will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the seminary "where I actually grew up," and another at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Kalibo, where he was baptized.
Rev. Mr. Carillo's family is coming from the Philippines and the United Kingdom to witness his ordination. The next morning, his family will go with him to St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, where the new priest will celebrate his first Mass.
"It's fitting that I say my first Mass with the Sisters, who nurtured my vocation, who taught me how to become a good priest, all those formation years," he said.
"They are like our mothers," he said of the Oblate Sisters of Christ the Priest, who serve at the seminary.
"They cook for us," he said gratefully. "Not only that, they always pray for us."
John Erick Villa
When his first assignment — parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish — was announced, "that someday came soon," he said.
"It is really an answered prayer," he said.
He looks forward, in his time in Brentwood, to visiting the sick and young people incarcerated at the nearby Boys Ranch, and to learning to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Rev. Mr. Villa's journey to the priesthood began when, after graduating from college with a pre-law degree, he told his grandparents, who had raised him, that he wanted to enter the seminary.
"My grandfather said, 'Thank you,'" he recalled.
"I started seminary in 2003," he said. "Along the way I have met tons of people who have been instrumental in my formation, not only the priests who were directly responsible for me in the seminary, but people in the ministries, he said.
In between his seminary studies, he worked for a memorialization company in the Philippines for about four years. In selling life insurance and memorial plots he was learning.
"More than anything else, what I learned from that was being available to those who are grieving and making them prepared for something that is inevitable," he said.
Rev. Mr. Villa said he is "very thankful" for the support in documentation he received from the diocesan vocations office in attempt to secure visas for five members of his family to attend his ordination. Ultimately, those visas were denied.
Rev. Mr. Villa's faith and joy are undeterred.
"Sometimes when we want something, and it's not granted, we think it's the end of it," he said. "But God is cooking up something better."
It is also "a powerful testament to the prayer of the people surrounding me, lifting me up, even in that brief sad episode of not having them at the ordination," he said.
"The greatest gift is the ordination itself," he said. "Even if they are not here, they're here," he said, raising his hand to his heart.
At home, his grandmother is busy making preparations for his return home for a visit after ordination. "They've been coordinating with the local parish for the Thanksgiving Mass," he said. "I grew up in a village. In the Philippines, everybody knows each other." Excitement has been building from "the moment that they've heard that we're getting close to the ordination and I'll be home for the Mass."
But before that Mass for the family and friends, there will be a first, smaller Mass. It will be at the gravesite of his grandfather, who died three years ago. It will be the young priest's opportunity to say "Thank you" to the grandfather who greeted his news of going to the seminary with the same words.
"I'm excited to be home and personally thank him," he said.
For the last five years, he has been studying for ordination in the Diocese of Oakland. Family members from El Salvador and Daly City will attend his ordination.
The journey to his ordination includes his experience as a child of 9 in El Salvador.
"My mother took me to the cathedral," he said.
"The cathedral was packed," he said. "It might not be easy to understand, but there were people sitting on the floor. They wanted to hear Blessed Romero preach."
The homilies, he said, lasted one hour.
"At the time, the government controlled television. Bishop Romero took advantage of preaching at Mass. This was the way he spoke the message of the Gospel."
"He connected very well the Gospel and the documents of the church, with the reality the people were living." He said. "He was preaching against injustice, crime, suffering."
Archbishop Oscar Romero's voice was familiar from his radio broadcasts, Rev. Mr. Lopez recalled. "People at home listened on radio," he said. As a child playing outside, "You could hear it playing from different houses."
Rev. Mr. Lopez is grateful to the parishes and parishioners who have supported his formation, including St. Bonaventure in Concord, St. Callistus in El Sobrante, St. Anthony in Oakland, Our Lady Queen of the World in Bay Point, St. Peter Martyr in Pittsburg and St. Anne in Byron.
After Masses of Thanksgiving at St. Bonaventure, Our Lady Queen of the World and St. Mary in Walnut Creek, where he served as a transitional deacon, the new priest will travel to El Salvador.
He will celebrate Mass in the parish of his baptism, and at the Cathedral of San Salvador, where he was inspired as a child by the archbishop, now Blessed Oscar Romero, who was martyred in 1980.
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