New priests: ‘Blessed to have been called to this vocation’
Four men will be ordained June 2 as priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
On June 2, four men from a variety of cultural backgrounds and life experiences will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Archbishop José Gomez will ordain Fathers Manuel Bravo, Chan Woo Lee, Eben MacDonald and Nabor Rios in a morning Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. All have completed their theological formation at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, including year-long internships at parishes throughout the archdiocese, and the recent completion of service as transitional deacons.
Ranging in age from 27 to 53, the new priests originally hail from South Korea, Mexico, the Midwest and Southwest. Some have worked in other professions prior to entering St. John’s --- like Father Rios, whose road to the priesthood began in the service of incarcerated youth (see below). Like his fellow ordinands, he believes the insights he has gained through his formation process, in and out of the seminary, will serve him well in life as a priest.
“Priesthood continues the mission of Jesus on earth, always ready to serve and love others, just as a father or mother would do for their children,” he told The Tidings. “It is to be always grateful for the gifts received, helping and teaching others to do the same, reminding people that they are the beloved children of God.
“Priesthood calls me to be with the people in times of deep sorrow and profound loss, making Christ present in the darkest moments of their lives --- and, equally important, to be with people in times of celebration and joy. Rooting my life in Jesus Christ through deep spirituality and a strong life of prayer, my deepest desire is that my priesthood will imitate Christ, to be Christ-like in everything I say and do. ”
During their ordination weekend, the new priests will celebrate their first Masses at their respective home parishes, before they begin their first assignments as associate pastors on July 1. Following are brief profiles of the new priests.
Manuel Leon Bravo
Born: July 3, 1958 in Tucson, Arizona.
Parents: Alicia and Jose Bravo.
Education: Scottsdale (Ariz.) High School; Cal State Long Beach (Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering).
Home parish: Our Lady of Refuge, Long Beach.
Internship: St. Marianna de Paredes, Pico Rivera.
Transitional Diaconate: St. John Baptist de La Salle, Granada Hills.
First Mass as priest: June 3, 11:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Refuge.
First Assignment: Mary Star of the Sea, San Pedro.
On becoming a priest: “It took me many years to appreciate the strength, the power and the beauty of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. I have grown to love them and they have truly helped me to grow closer to God through Jesus Christ. It will be a blessing and an honor to be able to participate more closely in sharing these sacraments with the people of God so they too will grow closer to God.”
Chan Woo Lee
Born: Jan. 30, 1985 in Seoul, South Korea.
Parents: Jong Wook Lee and Yeon Sook Lee.
Education: Van Nuys High School; UCLA (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy).
Home parish: St. Gregory Nazianzen, Los Angeles.
Internship: St. Philip the Apostle, Pasadena.
Transitional Diaconate: St. Robert Bellarmine, Burbank.
First Mass as priest: June 3, noon at St. Gregory Nazianzen.
First Assignment: St. Charles Borromeo, North Hollywood.
On becoming a priest: “Embracing God’s love and the beauty of the Catholic faith was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life, and there is nothing more I want to do than to be God’s instrument in others experiencing the same love. I feel very blessed to have been called to this vocation.”
Eben Mark MacDonald
Born: Nov. 4, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio.
Parents: Laurence and Rose Ann MacDonald.
Education: Luke M. Power Catholic and Flint (Mich.) Central High Schools; Michigan state University and University of Michigan, Flint (Bachelor of Arts in Theater).
Prior occupations: Regional Visual Merchandiser (Pier One Imports), Office Manager (Richman & Roberts Real Estate and Loans).
Home parish: St. Mel, Woodland Hills (raised in St. Michael Church, Flint).
Internship and Transitional Diaconate: St. Elizabeth, Van Nuys.
First Mass as priest: June 3, 11 a.m. at St. Mel.
First Assignment: Sacred Heart, Lancaster.
On becoming a priest: “I first thought of becoming a priest during my college years and briefly studied for another diocese in Michigan, but I felt God calling me elsewhere at that point in my life. Once I became heavily involved in parish ministry here in California, I experienced God calling me once again to consider a vocation to the priesthood. After much prayer and discernment, I entered St. John’s seminary in the fall of 2006. Upon ordination, I will become the third priest in my immediate family (brother Adam is a priest of the Society of the Divine Word, brother Tim is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan). Along with the many wonderful priests and religious who have inspired me in my life, I credit the example and witness of my parents for three religious vocations in our family.”
Born: Feb. 23, 1967 in Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.
Parents: Francisco Rios and Maria de Jesus Gomez.
Education: Escuela C.B.T. (high school) in Tuxpan, Jalisco; Glendale Community College (Associate of Arts).
Prior occupations: Manager and District Manager (Baja Fresh Mexican Grill).
Home parish: St. Finbar, Burbank.
Internship: St. John Vianney, Hacienda Heights.
Transitional Diaconate: St. Bernardine of Siena, Woodland Hills.
First Masses as priest: June 3, 9 a.m. (English) and June 10, 11 a.m. (Spanish) at St. Finbar.
First Assignment: St. Francis Xavier, Pico Rivera.
On becoming a priest: “In 2003 I began to visit the incarcerated youth at the Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, and for about four years I devoted a good part of my life to sharing my faith and praying with them and for them every week. Their lives transformed my life, and ever since I desired nothing more than to share with others what I have received from God and the vulnerable youth behind bars. The incarcerated youth inspired me to leave my ‘worldly success’ and give my life to the service of God and his people. This experience helped me to see my priesthood as a gift from God, a gift that needs to be ‘other’ directed, just like a shepherd cares for his sheep. They inspired me to see the priesthood as more than just a gift; it is a privilege to be a friend of Christ, a friend who brings the message of love, compassion, understanding and salvation to those I serve. They taught me how to be with the people and for the people, and how to be the voice of the voiceless, and even how to pray with them and for them. ”
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.