December 10, 2023
Second Sunday of Advent

Thirty-five years ago today, on December 10, 1988, I was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Pierre DuMaine, the first bishop of San Jose.  I have come into the Diocese four and a half years earlier to begin studies for the priesthood.  Prior to my arrival in the U.S., I used to teach at two universities in the Philippines and also worked as a report editor of an in-house publication of a computer subsidiary of the largest utility company in the Philippines.  I had a good and fulfilling life with my family.

When I left my old country, I still longed to go back and be with my family even as I nurtured a desire to be a priest.  But, I guess, I was destined to stay and serve in the Diocese that nurtured me and embraced me, not only as a son but also as minister within the family of God.

When I was ordained, my parents traveled  great distances to witness the ordination of their first-born son.  My mother traveled from Manila while my father flew Saudi Arabia where he had been working almost three years at a desalination plant in Jeddah.

Throughout my 35 years of ministry, I have had varied assignments all of them happy and memorable giving joy to my heart.  As a deacon, I was assigned at St. Lucy’s Church in Campbell.  After ordination, I was assigned to Most Holy Trinity Church in east San Jose.  From there I went to Our Lady of Peace Parish in Santa Clara, serving as one of the associates of the sainted Msgr. John Sweeney.  After only about 9 months at Our Lady of Peace Church, I was transferred to St. John the Baptist Parish in Milpitas as associate pastor.  I served in SJB for almost four years, after which I was transferred to St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish in Santa Clara where I spent two years and three months as associate pastor and nine months as administrator while the pastor went on sabbatical.

After St. Lawrence, I was sent to Rome to study canon law.  I lived at the Casa Santa Maria of the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) and went to school at the Pontifical Gregorian University.  After two years, with a licentiate in canon law, I returned to the Diocese of San Jose, and worked at the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese as case instructor and then as a judge.  In 2003, I was appointed Vicar for Clergy by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, until June 2010.  In July 2010, I was appointed pastor of St. Christopher Church in San Jose where I served for four years.  From 2014 to 2018, I was adjutant judicial vicar and judge at the Tribunal.

In July 2018, I was appointed pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Milpitas.  When the new bishop took over, I was asked take on the office of vicar for clergy a second time (2019), as the Diocese and the new bishop were transitioning, while still remaining as pastor of SJB Parish.

I am now back at the parish full-time, having relinquished the position of vicar for clergy in July 2022.

My ministry of 35 years in ministerial priesthood has been rewarding, fulfilling, and filled with joy and grace.  I have been so blessed as a priest in those assignments and ministries where God has called me to serve.

When I left my family in the Philippines in September 1983, I was not expected to become part of an even larger family.

Indeed, “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior”. (Lk 1:46b-47)

Thank you to all who have journeyed with me through these past 35 years and even through the 30 years before that.  You have enriched me in ways I did not expect for which I can only bow in humble gratitude to God who has always been at my side.

 

Sincerely.

Monsignor Willie