A diverse mix of 35 new apostles of Christ were ordained to the priesthood in California this year, entering ministry to the state’s Catholics.

The newly-ordained priests include men who heard Christ’s call early in their adult lives, but also men who travelled other paths into middle age before hearing the call. Among them are men who had been surfers, financial managers, space researchers, teachers and musicians, to name a few of those who had previous occupations.

Some are native Californians; others were born in other states. Many were born in Mexico.

The largest ordination took place in Los Angeles where Archbishop Jose H. Gomez ordained nine men for the archdiocese. The diversity of the City of Angels is reflected in the men who became Catholic priests there in 2018.

“Our St. John’s Seminary is full with good men and so is our Queen of Angels Center for Priestly Formation,” Gomez said at the ordination. “Every day we are meeting even more who are searching for their path, praying and trying to discern God’s calling in their lives.

Beyond the nine ordained in Los Angeles, five dioceses each ordained three men this year: Monterey, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose. Two more were ordained in the Orange diocese.

In three religious orders prominent in California–the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), and the Norbertines–a total of nine more were ordained in the state.

Four new Jesuits were ordained at the parish church in San Ysidro, within sight of the Mexican border. The location was selected to underscore the Church’s powerful concern for people in need.

Four Dominicans were ordained in San Francisco–by a fellow Dominican who himself had just been ordained the city’s auxiliary bishop.

In Oakland, Bishop Michael Barber ordained three men: Fr. Arturo Bazan, Fr. Jimmy Macalinao, and Fr. Mario Rizzo.

In San Jose, Fr. Edgar Elamparo, Fr. Francis Kalaw and Fr. Eric Piczon were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath.

In San Diego, Bishop Robert W. McElroy ordained three new priests for the diocese: Fr. Oscar Lopez, Fr. Antonio Morales and Fr.Eric Tamayo.

In Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto ordained Fr. Jesus Hernandez, Fr. Rene Jauregui and Fr. German Ramos in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

All were born in Mexico and began their priestly studies there.  Frs. Hernandez and Jauregui completed studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park while Fr. Ramos finished his studies at Mount Angel seminary in Oregon.

In Monterey, retired Bishop Sylvester Ryan ordained Fr. Dat Dac Nguyen, Fr. David Anthony Ramirez, and Fr. Rodrigo Paredes Cardona and they have moved quickly into parish ministry. Fr. Nguyen, for example, now is the vicar at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the historic community founded in 1772 by St. Junipero Serra and today the main parish for the city that still carries its name.  (Bishop Richard Garcia, who died in July, was too ill to preside at the ordination.)

In Orange, Bishop Vann ordained Fr. Gaston Mendiola Arroyo and Fr. Aristotle Quan for the diocese.

The Norbertines, whose community centers on their monastery in the Orange County hills, also added a priest when Bishop Vann ordained  Fr. Pio Carlo Vottola, O.Praem, for the order. He is a native of San Pedro.

While the need for more vocations in the American church remains urgent, recent trends indicate some growth, according to the National Religious Vocations Conference.

In 2017 (most recent data) it counted 590 ordinations in the U.S., taking place in 140 dioceses and 32 religious orders. That is nearly 20 per cent more ordinations over 2013 when there were 497 ordinations in 119 dioceses and 30  religious orders.