Parish
Comment 1

St James, thus far

Strange as it may seem, the biggest change when I moved to St. James Church was learning to be alone.   I took the vow of celibacy, or promise, whatever but wasn’t prepared to live by myself. Seminary and OMOS were a different scenario. I didn’t know Priesthood not until after ordination. That’s loaded. I’ll get this straight next time. I was very dependent on system that I didn’t think outside of the box. Basically, when Coolidge came into the scene, my lifeline suddenly disappeared. I still remember back in July how I exceedingly struggled to fix a dinner, even my own Filipino dish, because I literally lived a sheltered life. Once I tried to cook tilapia, my mother’s version. It was a disaster. For the second time, I played safe, I fried it. It was alright.

So, I pleasantly said, the first criterion for a Coolidge Priest to effectively minister is the ability to be alone, not totally in control or out of control but remain contingent, whatever that means. Don’t ask but let me tell you why, there’s only 24 hrs a day. 

In my very first homily, I mentioned that I was intent on visiting houses and have dinner with families. It’s because I can’t manage to prepare a nice meal save for microwaveable. Sadly, my house visit didn’t quite work lacking the skills of an expert to make this inner mechanism operate well. Quite a few posed the question point blank about how I learn to live in a little town, in a rapidly growing parish with huge expectations from an inexperienced Asian looking fellow. I answered right on that for me, Coolidge is Beverly Hills and when I say that, I mean I have a knack for small towns and that my decision in coming to St. James is irrespective of the place and people, which makes mission really exciting and rocking.
In just nearly 5 months, I have seen people’s docility. They want to be taught and be led and very responsive. That’s because I showed a huge interest and burning zeal to take the parish to the next level. I’m not sure if this is something I need to broadcast and be proud of but so far, I have no enemies and I’m worried, just slightly, whether I’m preaching my Gospel or Jesus’. The demands are dizzying and sometimes crushing but I’m ever positive that as long as people work together, things will get done. The real challenge is manpower. The parish needs  people willing to sacrifice their time, not for me but for Mother church and God and not get overly affected if the Cardinals aren’t going to the playoffs.

For now, I’m just loading the wagon for as long as I know it’s heading on the right direction. The parish has plenty of resources, human and graced and that makes the community exceptional. At first, I thought I can handle everything but lately, realized got too much on my plate, need to slow down and never let my demons get the better of me. As I immerse myself, I try not to judge the culture but dance with it, show up at ball games and community activities with my clerics on, to be seen by many the shallow side of me, not really, that’s letting them know I’m the new kid Priest in town, slowly discern where people are, prayerfully reflect on it and given the lifestyle, spread the Gospel and promote the Church the Apostles left behind. Hope I don’t go off on tangent. Amen. 

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A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, currently assigned as Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

1 Comment

  1. Sounds as though you have the pulse of the parish, Father and difficulties aside, you seem to be having a good time. I know Catholicism talks a lot about suffering, but if the priest doesn't enjoy and love what he's doing, people will simply disappear. Bet your parish is growing.
    Blessings and prayers from me, Fr. JoJo.

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