By Fr. Louis Sung
Ordination to the priesthood was a very special and unique experience. The whole weekend was very hectic and felt like a blur, but even more than that it was very grace-filled. The day of ordination itself was surreal and tiring, but I also felt the many blessing and gifts God bestowed upon me. When everyone was coming up to congratulate me and asking for blessings, I was reminded about how they were excited for me, not only because they were journeying with me, but also because I now, more than ever, represented the Church and Jesus Christ. When the people were thanking and congratulating me, their real gratitude was not meant for me, but for God. Many thanked me for answering God’s call to the priesthood, but I also thanked them for their continuous prayers for the Church, for vocations to the priesthood, and for their support of priests. Without the prayers and support of the people of God we would not have new priests. On the following day, Sunday, I had my first Masses. It was a blessed experience to celebrate Mass for the first time. We practiced saying Mass many times at the seminary, but it was a very different experience actually celebrating the real actual Mass, especially during the consecration. I thank God for choosing me for this unique and special role in his divine plan and I am also honored that He has chosen me, an unworthy sinner, to answer His call to serve as a priest of Jesus Christ. Please pray for me and my classmates as we start our ministry as newly ordained priest.
By Fr. Luther Diaz
Receiving the gift of ordination is unlike anything I have experienced ever. It is something for which words are not available to fully describe. The whole experience is overwhelming, but not in the sense of tiresome or burdensome; more in the sense of being caught up in a whirlwind or a current of water, and feeling overcome with a sense of joy, peace, ecstasy and euphoria all at the same time. Celebrating my First Masses of Thanksgiving, I was still in the process of being “spirited”, and getting a foothold on being a priest: being able to celebrate Mass, to consecrate. The moment when I was truly overcome with the emotions and gratitude of what an immense grace I had received was the following Monday after ordination. I was asked to celebrate Monday Mass. The school children were there. At the first elevation, when the altar servers rang the bells, I was overcome with an indescribable feeling of all that I have said and a sense of nothingness; as in being not me, but a part of something that was not really me, but it was me at the same time. And then being asked to hear confessions that day and the following day at the Cathedral... that feeling of nothingness came over me again, and I felt as if I was one with the plan of God. I felt as if the only thing that mattered was Christ’s wanting people to know that mercy is an endless ocean free for all who want it and seek it, and that there are no conditions for Jesus giving His mercy to us all.
By Fr. Emmanuel Delfin
A parishioner greeted me, and then later said goodbye, “God bless you, Father Emmanuel,” emphasizing “Father”. The first thought, or emotion rather, that took hold of me was humility. As she walked away, I further reflected that to be called Father, is to be in service of this vocation, not to be inflated. I am called to be Simon the Cyrenian, and to carry this heavy cross of Christ’s priesthood - not my priesthood, but His priesthood. I then recalled those who God placed in my life, those who congratulated my ordination into His priesthood. One was a Southern Baptist, another a Methodist, and another a Muslim. This reveals to me what vocation truly is. These people in my life, who believe in God through different viewpoints, recognize that, in the path that I have chosen, there is an amazement of my choosing to return back to God in this way. Their recognition of this seems to be deeply engrained in all human beings; that the world sees the Catholic priesthood as a sign for all of us to give ourselves back to our source, back to our Creator, Our Lord. It is only when we find the path God had made for us will we find our true selves and be completely happy, no matter how easy or difficult that path may be. This path is our vocation, as priests, as consecrated brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers... As people who have embraced giving their time, their heart and their very life in the name of love, which can be none other than Jesus in his Mercy, Sacrifice, and in his Eucharist.
By Fr. Brian Humphrey
Rufino, a sacristan at my home parish, told me just days before the ordination, “Let the people love you.” Similarly, Fr. Albert van der Woerd shared with me the image of landing a plane to describe what I might expect during ordination weekend. He said, “All of God’s grace and the people’s love are like the lights that will guide your way. Just follow them and you will be okay and land the plane safely.” These two bits of advice were absolutely spot on. God’s people in Los Angeles love their priests! They see in us a representative of Jesus Christ. This reality brings me to tears. Words cannot describe the honor it is to be able to say the words, “This is my Body, given up for you.” My first Mass was a whirlwind. I tried to chant the Collect [opening prayer], but was pretty nervous and messed up the melody. Again, the smiles from the people and support from the concelebrating priests, one of which was my uncle (Fr. Charlie Diedrick), were like lights that helped me land the plane. At the end of Mass, I presented the stole I used to hear my first confession to my father, and the manutergium (cloth used at ordination to wrap the new priest's hands in Chrism oil) to my mother. Again, tears. There was overwhelming support coming from every direction, all weekend long, especially from my family and home parish, St. Francis of Assisi. Rufino and Fr. Albert were right, God worked through his people to help bring me home to the priesthood. Thank you!