Friday, November 28, 2014

A Vocation Within a Vocation: The Installation of Pastor Reverend Michael Rocha

A Vocation Within a Vocation:  
The Installation of Pastor Reverend Michael Rocha

          On the Solemnity of Christ the King, the parish of St. Paschal Baylon, in the Conejo Valley of Southern California, celebrated the Installation of their new pastor, Reverend Michael Rocha.  

This Sacred Mass Installation, under the direction of lead coordinator Confirmation/Youth Ministry Director Robert Batch, reflected the traditional church celebration.  

This celebration for the Installation of Reverend Rocha, included a full procession with the Knights of Columbus, choir with trumpet players, homily, sacramental gifts, the Installation Mass and more.  

The Very Revered Michael Jennett, who is the Regional Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, represented Archbishop Jose Gomez and con-celebrated the mass with the parish priests and deacons.  

During the Installation, key parishioners of  various ministries, along with the assistance of Robert Batch, each presented a sacramental gift to the new pastor, in the form of sacred oils, a liturgy book and blessed chalice.  

The liturgy and homily of this sacred event was enhanced with it being graciously presented in both Spanish and English.

          As the Installation of a priest to a new parish is a vocation within a vocation, as a priest, it is a reflection of their continued service at the “foot of the cross” to serve as Jesus would have served.   

The Installation of a priest as a new pastor, is a wonderful sacred event for that parish community to solidify their commitment to their new pastor and for that pastor to solidify his commitment to his new parish community.  

It is also a time where all gather to ask for blessings for their new pastor and for the blessings to be upon the community in which he serves. 

          With any Installation event with the mass and “Presentation of Faith and Oath”, it is also a time of prayerful praise.  In this time of prayerful praise, the cantor from Reverend Michael’s former parish, a Mr. Ennio Morricone, presented his song of “Gabriel’s Oboe”.  Mr. Morricone’s perfect gift of sacred song, as well as many gathered from Reverend Michael’s former parish,  seemed symbolic of the passing of the torch from one parish to another in a sign of unity and grace. 

          The Installation event concluded with the song, “Hail Redeemer, King Divine”.  All gathered for this event were then invited to a reception in the hall for light refreshments, faith and fellowship.  The reflection of this day of celebration was complete in the words of Reverend Michael Rocha as follows:

          “I give thanks to almighty God for all those who shared their gifts and talents during this special Installation Mass.  I also give thanks to all of you who have joined me on this momentous occasion.  Thank you Saint Paschal Baylon Community for  your warm welcome to this great parish.  Finally, a special word of gratitude to many family members and friends who have traveled from far and near, to join me on this day.  God bless you all."  

Monday, September 29, 2014

St. John’s Seminary: The Start of their 75th Anniversary Celebration

St. John’s Seminary:  The Start of their 75th Anniversary Celebration 

Amid the hills of Camarillo, are the beautiful and peaceful grounds of St. John’s Seminary which now, at this historical sitehas officially begun the start of their 75th anniversary celebration of events.  

On Saturday, September 28th, the seminary held its traditional Alumni Awards Dinner for alumni, benefactors and friends of St. John’s Seminary.  

This event started with Vespers in the chapel, where the Cantor lead the attendees in song and praise.   

Archbishop Jose Gomez. gave a tribute talk in celebration of the work of the seminary.  

An elegant reception followed with many priests, bishops, religious sisters and guests enjoying fine wines, excellent appetizers and great conversation, on a beautiful fall evening before the dinner. 

The dinner to celebrate the start of the 75th Anniversary was held for the first time outside in a movie-like setting with dozens of elegant tables, old-fashioned lights strung above and lighting to highlight the beautiful statue of Holy Mother Mary.  

In this wonderful setting, nearly 400 people were gathered to celebrate and to honor Michael M. Clements, Monsignor Helmut A. Hefner, Father Thomas J. Peacha and Bishop Gerald F. Wilkerson.   

The new rector, Reverend Monsignor Marc Trudeau, gave an excellent opening celebration talk and each of the honorees thereafter, had an opportunity to give their reflection.  

Seminarians were gracious servers with food placed to all that attended prepared by the gifted 5-Star Chef Alex.  One could sense the joy and pride that all had in participating in the first major event in celebration such a fine anniversary. 

It should be noted that this seminary has for 75 years provided the education, formation and nurturing of the men most of whom have been ordained to the priesthood.  

Father Thomas J. Peacha who has been a priest for almost six decades said, “In 1953, I entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.  

There I took my place among a fine group of young men who were also on the road to the priesthood.”  

This seminary for decades has been the main source for many holy vocations to the priesthood, religious and laypersons, who by their completed education enhanced their ministries in their parish communities. 

In addition, in the last 50 years the seminary has opened it doors to women from laypersons to religious sisters, for completion of theology and pastoral studies.  

These women, who have expanded their curriculum through the seminary, have greatly enhanced their vocation either to religious life, or their ministries, within their own parish.  

It is truly exceptional that women have had the opportunity for many years now to have a higher education through such an exceptional seminary. 

With the Alumni dinner event, Monsignor Marc Trudeau encouraged the attendees to participate in the campaign in honor of the 75th anniversary to financially assist in the dorm renovations project.  

In greater detail from the Alumni tribute book, there is an ongoing campaign called, “75 x 75 x 3 – The Campaign for St. John’s Seminary’s 75th Anniversary”.  

This is an opportunity for one to pledge an amount of either $75, $750, $7,500, $75,000 or $750,000 over a three year period.  Funds from this campaign will greatly benefit the much needed renovations of the dorms that started in 2013 as well as ongoing financial support to meet the needs of the seminary.  

Those who wish to be a part and give their pledge can go to the website of or contact the Advancement Office at (805) 389-2035. 

With the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of St. John’s Seminary now officially begun, there will be ongoing events in this year and the next.  

There will be special Masses, forums, “Wine & Wisdom” tours to the wine country and another Alumni Dinner Awards celebration in 2015.  

More information on these and other events can be found by visting their Facebook page at  

In addition, to all the upcoming celebrations and those making donations, it would be exceptional for all to pray for the seminarians in formation, the staff, professors, priests and the holy work of the seminary.  

Let the 75th anniversary celebrations be a time for great reflection, prayer, thanksgiving and joy!  Congratulations to St. John’s Seminary and God’s continued blessings on the next 75 years! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

More Young Men Choosing Priesthood (Article reposted from Office for Vocations - Archdiocese Los Angeles)

Reader please note:  As more young men are finding their holy vocation to the priesthood, this article provides inspiring insight for those men who are discerning a vocation.  Please pray for men in your community who are considering their holy call.

Click this to watch accompanying video

FORT WORTH (CBS 11) - No sex, no money, and complete obedience. Not what you think the average 20-year-old guy would go for. But according to the Catholic Church, the number of men joining the priesthood is up.

In the Diocese of Fort Worth alone, the number of seminarians has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

And who is joining might surprise you.

Brett Metzler bench presses 250 pounds, squats 305, and can shoot hoops with the best of them.

But the former high school Athlete of the Year is not your typical college student.

20-year-old Brett believes becoming a priest is a better fit.

The Denton County native is preparing for the priesthood at Saint Joseph’s Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana–1200 acres of woods, water, and worship north of New Orleans.

He says his calling came during his freshman year at Texas A & M.

“Everything that everybody was telling me to do that was supposed to fulfill me, it just wasn’t working,” explained Metzler. “I was living in a house with four of my best friends from high school. I mean it was a blast. We’d throw the frisbee and play football every day. I just felt a feeling kind of like unfulfillment every night when I was going to sleep.”

He says it was the book, Fulfillment of All Desire, about the saints and their paths toward holiness that confirmed he must give his life to God.

“I was just reading it and crying, reading it and crying. Guys, at least me, I didn’t cry a lot. Stuff that she and other saints would say in talking about their love for God, you can’t read poems that beautiful. It really stirred my heart.”

Today Brett and 100 other Roman Catholic seminarians begin and end their day with prayer. They eat, attend classes, even hang out in their on-campus sports bar — all the while developing four Benedictine pillars of the priesthood: the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.

Father Gregory Boquet, the school rector, says it’s the human pillar at St. Joseph’s that’s changing the face of the future priesthood, drawing young men who may have never felt they fit in before.

“The priesthood has stress involved with it,” said Boquet. “And if you don’t take care of yourself physically as a young man, you’re not setting yourself up for a very good foundation to build if you want to progress into the priesthood.”

Boquet, a Benedictine monk, first came to St. Josephs 30 years ago. He built an extensive weight room, has a fitness expert come once a week to the school, and has each seminarian’s physical fitness evaluated once a year.

Boquet, who happens to be legally blind, says the *church* is no longer blind either. Strict psychological evaluations are required to enter the seminary.

“If it looks like this man lacks some maturity and psychosexual development or in his ability to relate to other people, they’re not accepted into the seminary,” Boquet continued. “A good seminarian attract other good seminarians.”

The end result?

“Many of the guys who come here are so relieved. They want to be a priest and they see guys just like them! They’re normal. They’re regular guys who can really inspire people.”

Still, to commit to a life of celibacy, poverty, and service…especially at such a young age?

We asked Brett Meltzler if he has doubted wanting to become a priest.

“There’s a month when I was really excited to become a priest. And then just normal guy stuff kicks in. I mean you want to get a girlfriend. You’re in college and there’s thousands of beautiful woman everywhere. I mean you want to get a girlfriend, you want to get married. I thought I was going to have hundreds of kids for my family to play with when I got older. But the more you pray about it, the more time you spend in silence, the more God kind of reinforces that call.”

So unless he hears otherwise– Brett says he’ll continue to listen for God’s voice and guidance.

“It takes some discipline to sit down and listen to God, even if it starts with 5 minutes a day,” Brett added. “God can work with that.”

Silence he seeks in the woods of St. Joseph’s seminary, as he prepares to shepard his own flock one day toward an eternity of peace.

“I think that’s why so many people come into the seminary and so many of the youth is starting to go to church now. Because they’re realizing that fulfillment and happiness isn’t found in what the culture is telling them it’s found in.”

Becoming a priest requires an 8-year discernment process. At St. Joseph’s Seminary College, 75% of all seminarians graduate and go on to become priests.

- See more at:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Today’s Seminarians: Following the Right Path to the Priesthood

Today’s Seminarians:  Following the Right Path to the Priesthood

With the consistent increase of men entering the seminary, we find that today’s seminarians are following the right path of the priesthood.  

These are now men in many cases that have advanced degrees and established sound careers who give all that up in a calling to their vocation to the priesthood.  

They are the constant success story of young men who faithfully follow the right path of studies, prayer and formation, to become good and holy priests.  

These men have a long journey on this path as the process can take six to eight years before they are ordained.   

Yet, they know this is the right path.

During their studies and their formation, is also consent discernment. In this process, these men seek to listen to God.  

Seminarian Bret Meltzler stated, “It takes some discipline to sit down and listen to God, event if it starts 5 minutes a day. God can work with that.”   

Thus, today’s seminarians believe that God is working with them on their path.  They seek God in much of what they do.  

These men of God will be formed in the intellectual and doctrinal tradition of the Catholic Church, and they will be men of great prayer who embrace the service to the Church and their community as new priests.

It was in The Tidings that Archbishop Jose H. Gomez reflected on the priesthood as follows, “The priesthood is a gift and a mystery in God’s plan for the salvation of the world.  

Every priest receives a special calling from God.  This calling is an invitation to a great adventure of self-surrender and service to God’s plan.”  

On reflecting on his words, today’s seminarians hear this holy call and bravely enter their journey on the holy path to the priesthood and all that is expected of them. 

In an age of self-promotion through the Social Networks, Blogs, Tweets, etc., they find for themselves a better and more self-fulling path of self-surrender to God’s plan. 

Today’s seminarians will find that it is not always an easy path towards the priesthood, but it is a sacramental path that will bring so much to their lives and the lives of others.  

Newly ordained Fr. John Adrian Palmer states on becoming a priest, “As a priest, I hope to share in Jesus’s mission by helping people to know and experience God’s merciful love so that they, in turn, can help others to know and experience His love, and ‘so that they may all be one’ (John 17:21) with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

In the years to come, may many other good men find this holy path to the priesthood and shine the bright light of Christ so needed in today’s world! 

For further reference see  or

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Characteristics of Today’s Holy Archdiocesan Priests

In this day, the journey to the priesthood is a long one and the characteristics required for the formation to ordain a seminarian to the priesthood are numerous.  Yet, it needs to be so, in having good and holy priests for a lifetime of service.  With this article, I wanted to reflect on what most Archdioceses of today are requiring for the formation of their seminarians.  In the “Profile of a Candiate for the Priesthood to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles” (See *) as mentioned in the Parish Vocation Director’s Manual originally created by the Vocations Office, under the direction of Monsignor Jim Forsen, it is mentioned these vital characteristics as follows:

          “1.     An ecclesial spirituality that includes a deep love and commitment to the Eucharist, to the Sacramental life of the Church, to the Scriptures, and to the Liturgy of the Hours; as well as a personal spirituality that includes a commitment to private prayer, balance devotionalism, and personal spiritual growth.
2.                A fundamental knowledge and understanding of the teaching of the Catholic Church, and a faith commitment to those teaching in their entirely.
3.                Commitment to the Magisterium of the Church as contained in official Church documents, with a special emphasis upon the spirit and teachings of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent implementing documents; commitment to follow the leadership of the Archbishop as the authentic Teacher within the Archdiocese.  The candidate must understand and accept the extraordinary teaching of our Holy Father in Pastores Dabo Vobis.
4.                Strong moral character and an evident commitment to integrity, honesty, and personal and social justice.
5.                A genuine desire to serve others over the pursuit and satisfaction of one’s personal interests, with a strong commitment to an appropriately simple life-style and willingness to serve the poor and to accept assignment to less affluent parishes.
6.                Physical, mental and emotional health, as evidenced by the absence of inhibiting disabilities and potentially serious medical conditions; a balanced approach to work, prayer and leisure; appropriate expression of emotions; good stress management skills and freedom from addictions; where pertinent, five years of sobriety and continuing successful involvement in recovery program.
7.                Age appropriate psycho-sexual maturity.
8.                Commitment to and ability to live a life of celibacy according to the call of Christ, including celibate living for two years prior to entering the seminary and throughout the entire period of formation.  Pursuing the virtue of chastity enhances overall priestly holiness.
9.                Proven academic ability to complete graduate theological studies, etc.
10.           Willingness to coorperate with the vision and mission of the Universal Church, the Archdiocese, the Archbishop, and appropriate Archdiocese officals and leaders.
11.           Good interpersonal skills for sustaining relationships and fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of ministry, including evidence of sound peer relationships.
12.           Pastoral sensitivity demonstrated by genuine care and compassion for others, a clear sense of prudence, as well as an aptitude for acquiring pastoral skills.
13.           Ability to work collaboratively with laymen, laywomen, women religious, permanent Deacons, other priests, and the Regional Bishops.
14.           Demonstrable leadership skills and the ability to show initiative in pastoral and personal situations, together with the desire to inculcate sound liturgical presiding skills – to serve as a leader of prayer.
15.           Ability to minister in two or more pastoral languages, with Spanish the most often needed.
16.           Appropriate appreciation and respect for diversity and multiculturalism, especially as these factors present themselves in the religious traditions of the various ethnic groups.
17.           Requisite communication skills.”

*        It should be noted that all the “characteristics” mentioned in this article are ones that are consistant with the “issues of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation” that had been set clearly to incorporate during the lifetime of Pope John Paul II (now Saint) in his noted 1992 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoration, Pastores Dabo Vogis, articles 43-59, and as described in The Program for Priestly Formation.  

As one can see, there are many key characteristics that are needed for the formation of a seminarian to the priesthood.  It is a time when any Archdiocese is prudent in having seminarians that reflect these characteristics for holy and well qualified priests that bring greater compassion, holiness, communication and strength for a lifetime of service.

If you would like to find out more about the Los Angeles vocations program or to contact the Vocations Office,  please see

Friday, February 14, 2014



The beautiful old mission arches, built long ago, into the design of the 24 California Missions, are so symbolic of today’s seminarians.  

These simple arches standing together that support and strengthen each individual mission, seem to reflect today’s seminarians standing together to support each other’s vocation to the holy priesthood.  

These old mission arches, initially built under the direction of a peaceful Franciscan Friar, Padre Junipero Serra, seem symbolic of today’s seminarians working peacefully through the completion of their formation program during a time when we have a Pope taking the Franciscan name of “Francis”. 

The old mission arches stand strong, just as today’s seminarians stand strong in their commitment to their vocation.  

Like an old mission arch always secure and tall, a seminarian who realizes that this is truly God’s call for him, remains strong and tall in his commitment to be ordained a future priest.  

These young men being strong in their commitment to completing in excellence work through their lengthy formation program, living a life of chastity, showing charity towards others and being quiet men of prayer.  

They have a great love of church, respect for leadership and passion to learn how to be exceptional holly priests.  

Like an old mission arch that stands strong through heavy rains, winds and strong sun, a seminarian stands strong through the long hours of formation studies, the challenges great and small, as well as the needed field work to prepare for the priesthood.

The old mission arches are the same as all the other arches supporting the roof and so to are all the seminarians the same in supporting their seminary and the Universal Catholic Church.  

A young man who selects his seminary for his vocation program and later receives admission to that seminary, remains steadfast, supportive and committed to the Masses, prayers, teachings, spiritual guidance, field work and formation traditions provided by that individual seminary.  

A seminary that is Archdiocesan would be different in their formation program than that of a Franciscan or Dominican seminary.  

Yet, in their differences, much is the same, and each seminarian shows their support by obedience and commitment to what the program consists of.  It is thus the best of times for young men to consider the priesthood.

The old mission arches are beautiful to me; since I know that each arch was build by hand with much care, and much time, brick by brick.  

The outer layer of plaster composite was then applied over these bricks with the final perfect shade of paint to complete each arch.  

So too, a seminary who will be a priest, is built over much time, with much care, to their studies and spiritual growth.  Their outer layer reflecting their full completion are the white vestments on their Ordination Day.  

That perfect shade of paint is then given through the Holy Spirit, and these new priests are then ready to stand together for a lifetime of service, like those old arches in the California sun.

Leslie Lenko
Vocations Promoter