On June 2, 2012, our Bishop Emeritus Patrick J. McGrath ordained Fr. Pedro and me to the Order of the Presbyterate at St. Joseph Cathedral Basilica, in San Jose. Pedro Perez Sención, a native of the Dominican Republic, and myself, a native of the Philippines, were ordained for service in the Diocese of San Jose.
Sometimes it still feels surreal that it has been 10 years since I became a priest. There are moments when I feel as though it just happened yesterday. Those 10 years since that special day have been filled with memories and experiences that are now woven into my life. I can still feel the excitement and the joy of the people who attended, and for some of them it was their first time to witness a priestly ordination. I can still hear the “Hi, hello, how are you?” greetings and laughter of many family members and special guests that came from different places. Some had not seen one another for a while and haven’t seen each other for a time since. I can still feel the warmth of the embrace of those who greeted me before, and those who congratulated me after the ceremony. I can still picture the smiles and remember the tears of joy from those present in the congregation, especially from my family members. I can still feel the palms of some 75 priests who attended the ordination Mass and participated in the laying on of hands during the ceremony. I can still smell the scent of the sweet-smelling balsam perfume in the oil of the sacred chrism when the Bishop anointed my hands. It’s all fresh in my memory!
I still remember the very words of Bishop McGrath in the homily he delivered during the Mass. He called us, “Anthony, Pedro,” and reminded us to “be collaborators, learn from the people we serve, and ask for advice.” He then emphasized “center on your union with God as your minister, especially during daily prayer. Pray always. Never be a stranger to the Lord because the Lord will sustain you. You have been called to this work of Jesus. God has chosen you and in serving, you will find joy in the work of Jesus.”
Yes, for the last 10 years, I would say that I found the joy in the work of Jesus by serving all of you. It was a fulfilling and rewarding five years of ministry at St. Nicholas and St. William and equally the same for my first five years at St. Christopher in Willow Glen in San Jose. This wonderful vocation to the priesthood has given me an opportunity to serve God’s people in these two great parishes. I will always consider my ministry as priest to be a gift from God that allowed me “to continue the work and mission of Jesus Christ to proclaim the good news and bring God’s people closer to Him.” Truly, I believe that priesthood is a great vocation because it is a response to an invitation to serve God in his people.
I would like to thank all of you for this great opportunity. It has always been my fervent hope that, somehow, the people I serve become more aware of the presence of God in their lives, and that their love of Christ has deepened because of my ministry among them. That alone will be a cause of joy because the joy of serving is a gift for me as a priest.
On Pentecost Sunday, June 5th, after the 11am Mass, I hope that you can join me in celebrating my 10th Anniversary of my Priestly Ordination with a luncheon reception at St. William Hall. I also ask for your prayers that God will continue to fill me with strength and guide me in my ministry at my new parish assignment at St. Lawrence the Martyr in Santa Clara beginning July 1.
— Reflection by Fr. Anthony Uytingco