|July 11, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA|
Salute to our veteran priests
With this issue, The Catholic Voice salutes and thanks the religious men who have devoted their lives to serving the people of God. In the following pages, we honor parish priests who have given anywhere from 25 to 60 years in service of the Lord. Join us in offering them our thanks.
60 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. Barry Brunsman, OFM
50 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. John R. Morris, OP
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington
Ordination: June 10, 1966, St. Augustine Parish, Oakland
Present ministry: Promoter, Justice and Peace, Western Dominican Province. Lecturer in Collegiate Seminar Program, Saint Mary's College, Moraga
Past service: Associate professor, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley. Adjunct professor, Saint Mary's College, Moraga. Professor Incaricato, Pontifical University of St. Thomas, Rome, Italy. Assisted at St. Anselm Church, San Anselmo; St. Dominic's Church, Benicia.
I have come to the wonderful realization that my life as a Dominican and a priest is not about me; it is more properly about others. The words of St. Matthew have given me a wonderful insight on what this means. "Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me (Christ)." This includes all men and women but especially the marginalized. Everyone has become Christ for me for that is what the Gospel teaches. That is why I love the Dominican Life and the priesthood which it supports. It gives me an opportunity to share my gifts, my study and prayer with others. It permits me to confront Christ in so many unique and special ways. And it deepens my attachment to Christ for that is what our faith is: an attachment to the person of Jesus Christ. For all of this I am truly blessed, honored and grateful.
40 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. Padraig Greene
Birthplace: Sligo, Ireland
Ordination: June 13, 1976, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, Ireland
Present ministry: Parish Relationship Director and Director of Grief Ministry, Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services, Oakland
Past service: Diocese of Elphin, Ireland: Dean of Students, Summerhill College, Sligo; Associate Director for Vocations; Associate Director, Diocesan Pastoral/Retreat Center; Diocesan Director of Family Ministry. Diocese of Oakland: Parochial Vicar, Christ the King Parish, Pleasant Hill; St. Augustine Parish, Pleasanton; St. Joseph Parish, Fremont.
I lived just one block from our parish church. Whenever there were servers needed the "young Greene's" were called on. During my high school years I worked with our local priests in various ministries with the elderly, travelers, social services and the developmentally challenged. It was interacting with the priests in doing ministry that I began to notice a "stirring" toward becoming a priest.
After months of discussions and prayer I was becoming very interested in joining the Redemptorists or the St. John of God Brothers. One day I met the local bishop while helping in the sacristy and he began asking me questions. He was not at all happy with my choices. He spoke of the needs of our local diocese and very soon I was signed up for our National Seminary to become a diocesan priest.
My only desire right through the seminary was to do parish ministry. I never thought of any other ministry. Well that was not to be until I was welcomed into the Diocese of Oakland by Bishop Cummins and the presbyterate. I had spent almost the first thirty years of my priesthood in education, pastoral/retreat ministries, vocations ministry and family ministry. I would take the opportunity with my Bishop annually to share with him my deep desire for parish ministry but alas!!
As I review my four decades of priesthood I now realize that each of those ministries had a significant impact on the growth of my daily "yes" to priesthood and where I am today. Each of them called forth hidden gifts I was unaware of.
While studying at Fordham a Jesuit shared with us the words of Father Michael Buckley, SJ, writing to newly ordained priests: These words have been a great source of comfort and sustenance for me. He asked them not for achievements in their priesthood but for compassion, a compassion, he said, that could only be found through their suffering, through their struggle, their failure and their weakness. In this way a priest enters into the Priesthood of Christ, who is both priest and victim.
My vocation did not develop in a vacuum. It has come out of relationships of faith, hope and love, of family, community, ministers, spiritual directors, soul friends and graduate school experiences. I am so grateful to each and every companion/soul friend who has blessed and sustained me for the past forty years. My best spiritual mentors have been the people in the pews as well as those staffs I have worked with. My commitment to priesthood has deepened over those decades, despite the challenges in the Church, shift in public opinion and people's expectations.
I am so grateful to Pope Francis who continually shares with us his spirituality of priesthood. "Lay people are simply the vast majority of the People of God. The minority — ordained ministers — are at their service." Every day is Ordination Day. I say "yes" again today!
Rev. Salvatore Ragusa, SDS
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, Professed Benedictine December 1976
Ordained: May 14, 1988, Columbia, Missouri
Professed Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), May 20, 1994, Moraga
Present ministry: Chaplain, Holy Names University, Oakland
Past service: Campus Ministry Internship, St. Mark's Parish, Santa Barbara. Campus Ministry, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Director, Oakland House of Studies, Berkeley. Campus Minister/Resident Director, Saint Mary's College, Moraga.
It is most appropriate that I am writing this reflection on June 29, the Feast of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. An apostle is one who is being sent on mission. As I think about my call to priesthood, it is first and foremost a response to God's invitation to go out and proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the World. My "being sent" has taken different forms in my life. Sixty-five years ago, at my baptism, I was called to be Christ for others. This came with the beautiful gifts of Christ and the Church; being signed with the cross, being washed in the waters of new creation, anointed with chrism, receiving a new garment and the receiving the light of Christ.
Forty years ago, through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the "apostolic way of life," I was called to live out my witness to Christ in the consecrated life. Today, as a member of the Society of the Divine Savior, the Salvatorians, I am called to proclaim the Savior "by all ways and means."
Twenty-eight years ago, through the laying on of hands, and anointing with chrism, I was called to be a priest of Jesus Christ. This journey, as a priest, has been a time of grace and growth. If I was asked at the time of my ordination what was the greatest joy of being a priest, I would have answered quickly – to celebrate the Mass and the Sacraments! For me, it was the way to make Christ really present. While this is still a wonderful part of my priestly ministry, today I would add that walking with the people of God in their journey of faith is the source of great joy and another way to experience "real presence."
For twenty-six of my twenty-eight years as a priest, I have had the privilege of serving at various college and university campuses. In the fall of 2014, I began my ministry at Holy Names University, in all of my campus ministry experiences the trust that is placed in me by students, faculty and staff, is both a tremendous gift and a tremendous responsibility.
Through pastoral counseling, I have ministered to and with others in times of crisis and times of joy. Through community prayer we try to make sense of tragic events locally and globally. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I have had the privilege of being an instrument of God's infinite mercy and forgiveness. Journeying through the RCIA process is a wonderful time to share faith and celebrate the beautiful and powerful rites leading to the Easter Sacraments. Presiding at Eucharist, together we are fed with community, word and sacrament. There are many other ways my priesthood is lived out and I would describe those as "a ministry of presence." This happens with my campus community at meals, at sporting events, orientation, and commencement and even when I am doing my laundry in the student residence hall.
In addition to my campus ministry, I have had the joy of celebrating Eucharist in various parishes of the Oakland Diocese, celebrating the Sacraments at the Juvenile Detention Center in San Leandro, and witnessing the marriages of my former students.
In the various ways I live out my priesthood today, I have come to experience that it is Christ who both ministers to others through me, and becomes visible to me through those I serve. In this year of mercy and time of Jubilee, I have come this fuller and deeper experience of the "real presence" that was my greatest joy of being called and sent as a priest of Jesus Christ.
25 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. Dominic K. Asare, SVD
Birthplace: Kwahu Praso, Ghana
Ordination: August 17, 1991, Kukurantumi, Ghana
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Bernard Parish, Oakland
Past service: Pastor, Mayor Otano, Paraguay; Limoy, Paraguay.
(Mt 5:16) has always been my inspiration. What is my worth if Christ the perpetual light does not shine through my works as a priest?
I was ordained on August 17th of 1991 in Ghana to the Religious Congregation, Society of the Divine Word (SVD). In that same year I was assigned to Paraguay in South America for my first Mission appointment. There I worked for almost 20 years. This gave me the opportunity to learn the Spanish language which has become a wonderful tool for me and has opened me up to other cultures.
In March 2011 I was transferred from Paraguay to the SVD Western Province here in California. July 1, 2011, I was appointed to St. Bernard Parish in Oakland as associate priest and in September 2012 I became the pastor.
I am a priest not because of my might but because I feel called to serve God in the people I minister to daily.
Very Rev. Robert M. Herbst,
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Ordination: June 1, 1991, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Hermosa Beach
Present ministry: Judicial Vicar; Vicar for Religious; Chancellor; Moderator of the Curia; Adjutant Judicial Vicar — presiding Judge of Second Instance — Promoter of Justice ad causam; College of Consultors (member and secretary); Presbyteral Council (member and secretary). Coordinator of deaf ministry, St. Joseph Center for the Deaf, Union City/Hayward. St. Francis de Sales School for Pastoral Ministry — "Canon Law of the Sacraments." Extraordinary Form Latin Masses — Carmel of Jesus, Mary & Joseph, Kensington; Santa Maria Parish, Orinda; St. Edward Parish, Newark; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood.
Past service: Chaplain, Apostleship of the Sea. Parochial administrator, Santa Maria Parish, Orinda. Tribunal Judge, Archdiocese of San Francisco. Paenitentiaria Apostolica, Vatican City. College of Confessors, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. Pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Riverside, Diocese of San Bernardino. Associate pastor; Transitional Deacon, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Assisting in Deaf Ministry, St. Bernard Church, Los Angeles and C.S.U. Northridge, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Police Chaplain, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach Police Department. Defender of the Bond and peritus, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Judge and Defender of the Bond ad causam, Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada. Defender of the Bond, Archdiocese of Denver. Judge, Archdiocese of Detroit. Judge, Archdiocese for Military Services.
Looking back 27 years ago into my discussions with my Franciscan Provincial about my upcoming ordination and ministry, we both were looking forward to me completing my degree work in Canon Law and ministering in a diocese in that field. Between then and my ordination and first assignment, I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8 and Jeremiah 29:11 — our plans are not God's plans. Little did I plan to spend almost 10 years as pastor of a parish beginning just a year after ordination! Never did I plan to be sent to the Vatican to minister there for several years — and finally, while there, to complete my doctorate in Canon Law. Allowing God's plan, through the Vow of Obedience to the Minister Provincials of the Franciscans, led me on paths unplanned back to the Diocese of Oakland, where I completed my theological studies (DSPT). At this 25th anniversary of ordination, I look forward with hope to those plans that God has in store for all of us.
Rev. Anthony Herrera
Ordination: May 24, 1991, St. Bede Church, Hayward
Present ministry: Parochial vicar, St. Theresa Church, Oakland
Past service: Parochial vicar, All Saints Church, Hayward; St. Augustine Church, Pleasanton. Chaplain faculty, Moreau Catholic High School, Hayward. Pastor, St. Columba Church, Oakland. Administrator, St. Barnabas Church, Alameda. Deacon, Mission San Jose, Fremont. Internship, St. Peter Martyr Church, Pittsburg.
Throughout my youth I was fascinated by the unique personalities of the priests at my parish. Ultimately it was my parents, especially my father, who said to "always be open to what God wants us to be" that brought me to my life as a priest.
I am who I am today because of the many people who have come into my life throughout my time in ministry. Many times, over the course of the last 25 years, I have been touched by the presence of God at weddings, baptisms and in bringing someone to the faith just before death. My medical challenges coupled with life in parish ministry have given me hope and opportunities to recognize God at work around me. Every day is an opportunity to exercise my faith and give witness to who I am as a man of faith.
Rev. Thomas Khue
Birthplace: Mang Lang, Vietnam
Ordination: June 7, 1991, Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, Spokane, Washington
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Felicitas Church, San Leandro
Past service: Parochial vicar, Holy Spirit Church, Fremont; Our Lady Queen of the World, Bay Point. Washington: Pastor and Director of Vietnamese ministries, Spokane. Pastor, St. Anthony Church, Newport; St. Jude Church, Usk; St. Bernard Church, Ione; St. Joseph Church, Metaline Falls; Our Lady of Sorrow Reservation, Usk. Parochial vicar, St. Mary Church, Spokane.
All is God's grace! I am grateful to God and to the people of God for all of these blessings.
I was happy to be ordained a priest and I have been a happy priest. I hope to die as a happy priest.
The people in every parish I've had the privilege to serve have been wonderful people! I've learned much from them!
Rev. Herman H.M. Leong
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
Ordination: May 24, 1991, St. Bede Parish, Hayward
Present ministry: Ecclesiastical Judge, Tribunal, Diocese of Oakland
Past service: Parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Pleasanton; Christ the King Parish, Pleasant Hill; St. Joan of Arc Parish, San Ramon; St. Bonaventure Parish, Concord; Church of the Good Shepherd, Pittsburg. Parochial Administrator, Pro-tem, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Brentwood; St. Barnabas Parish, Alameda.
I believe the following citation from the Gospel of Mark offers a precise description of my experiences in the twenty-five years of priesthood:
Peter was moved to say to him, "We have put aside everything to follow you!" Jesus answered: "I give you my word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children and property for me and for the gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many homes, brothers and sisters, mothers, children, and property — and persecution besides — and in the age to come, everlasting life." (Mk 10:28-30, New American Bible)
As I live in hope for "everlasting life" in "the age to come," I continue to experience what Jesus promised Peter concerning family and community through the ordained priesthood.
Rev. David Link
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Ordination: May 24, 1991, St. Bede Parish, Hayward
Present ministry: Bishop's Representative to Eastern Catholic Churches
Past service: Parochial vicar, St. Francis of Assisi, Concord. Pastor, St. John the Baptist Parish, San Lorenzo. Dean of San Lorenzo/Hayward Deanery. Bi-ritual priest of the Melkite-Greek Catholic (Eparchy of Newton), helping at St. Elias the Prophet Melkite-Greek Catholic Church, Fremont. Knighted a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, Diocesan Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. Diocesan representative of visit by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Served as Roman Catholic Representative for Armenian Patriarch visit to San Francisco; Ukrainian Patriarch in San Francisco. Asked by Bishop Vigneron to learn the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Latin Mass) to help Institute of Christ the King at St. Margaret Mary Parish, Oakland.
Forever I will sing the Goodness of the Lord, with my mouth, I will make known Thy faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 89:1)
When we are about to be ordained priests, we can choose a passage of scripture which gives an intention of our priestly ministry for the future. The above Psalm verse is the one I chose. To be chosen and called by God is both a great honor and privilege carrying with it a serious responsibility. When I was 19 years old and attending the Peabody Conservatory of music, the nation's oldest and part of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (the Conservatory is located only 4 blocks from the Historic Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States), I was hired as Cantor and later Assistant Music Director. I came into contact with holy and faithful priests like Lawrence Cardinal Sheehan and Monsignor Porter White. They both encouraged me and gave me an example of what it means to be a wonderful priest filled with a sense of purpose, joy and love. While at the Basilica I saw the Cardinal many times and each time he would say to me, "David, you don't want to be a musician, you want to be a priest." Our call to priestly ministry comes from God through the mouths of others. That is why I so often say to others, "Have you thought about becoming a priest?" These past 25 years have truly been an incredible privilege; to be with the sick, the grieving, the lonely, but also the joy of reconciling in the confessional, those seeking healing and God's Infinite Mercy, of being at the altar making Jesus truly and really present in the Eucharist. It is a joy helping others Encounter Christ in the Holy Sacraments. I wouldn't trade these years for all the gold in Fort Knox. We say "Yes" to the Lord for many reasons. The first and most important reason is because we have experienced His Merciful, Awesome Love which takes possession of us and to say "No," we risk becoming the most pitiful and sad of all creatures. We were made for love and it is the love of God and others that gives us purpose, meaning, joy and peace to our lives. This peace is the peace the World cannot give and the World cannot take away.
Rev. Thuong Hoai Nguyen
Birthplace: Bien Hoa, Vietnam
Ordination: May, 24, 1991, St. Bede Church, Hayward
Present ministry: Pastor, St. John the Baptist Church, El Cerrito
Past service: Parochial Vicar, St. Joseph Church, Pinole. Director of Vietnamese Pastoral Center, Oakland. Pastor, St. Anthony Church, Oakland; Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, San Leandro.
My journey to serve God and His people.
In looking back 25 years ago, I have clearly recognized the presence of God in my life. First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my God and my Mother Mary for taking care of me with Their Loving Embrace. Also, I would like to thank you, our Bishop Emeritus John Cummins, who ordained me; Archbishop Allen Vigneron, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop Alexander Brunett, and Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, who nourished and cared for me as a priest. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all my Oakland Brother Priests, my Family Members, my dear Parishioners, my Benefactors and my Friends who pray and always walk with me until now. Because of your support and encouragement, I have become the best of who I am.
I was born and raised in Vietnam. I began my priestly vocation in the seminary of the Long-Xuyen Diocese in 1968 at the age of 12.
Upon graduation from the high school and preparation for college in 1975, Vietnam had fallen to the Communist regime. All seminaries were closed and taken over by the Communist government. All seminarians had to return home to avoid prosecution and execution. I also returned to my home village parish and served the parish school as an "interim principal."
With the help and assistance of the village pastor and the parishioners, I was able to attend the "hidden underground night class" to continue my seminary college education.
Religious life was getting more difficult, especially for seminarians, and the chance to become a priest seemed impossible. Therefore, in May 1981, with the help of a friend, I left Vietnam by boat and finally arrived in California in December 1981.
After about six months of language studies, I entered St. Joseph's College Seminary and graduated in 1986. I moved on to St. Patrick's Seminary to study theology.
By the grace of God, I was ordained on May 24, 1991. My first assignment was parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole. Next, I served as a Diocesan Director of the Vietnamese Pastoral Center. Then, I became pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Oakland; moved to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church as pastor in San Leandro and now I am at St. John the Baptist Church as pastor in El Cerrito.
In short, I have always believed in what our Lord Jesus had spoken in John 14:2: "I am going there to prepare a place for you." For me what it means is not just the heavenly place but also all the earthly places where He has sent me and will be sent for the fulfillment of my ministerial mission. I am very deeply grateful to Jesus for choosing me as His priest in doing His work.
And may our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and also my Heavenly Mother, keep me closer to her Beloved Son the Lord Jesus always. I would like to personally re-consecrate each moment of my priestly life to the Immaculate Heart of Mary where I can be loved, be joyful and at peace.
The following priests who have served in the Oakland diocese are also observing a major anniversary of ordination this year:
Rev. Brian Timoney
Rev. Torlach Delargy
Rev. Augustine Hartman, OP
Rev. Robert Christian, OP
Rev. John Endres, SJ
Rev. Quang Minh Dong
Rev. Paulson Mundanmani
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