The following comes from an August 8 Inland Catholic Byte article by Ashley Elizabeth Limon:
Bishop Gerald Barnes has often commented on the important role that religious order priests play in providing for the spiritual needs of the lay faithful in the Diocese.
So it was with gratitude and happiness that the Diocese welcomed three new religious communities—the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, the Heralds of Good News, and the Missionary Society of the Philippines—for parish ministry beginning July 1.
The Heralds of Good News, based in India, contacted the Diocese in January of 2015 expressing an interest in sending priests to serve here, said Monsignor Gerard Lopez, S.T.L., Vicar General of the Diocese and Director of Priest Personnel.
“The one thing that caught our attention was that they can serve in our diocese seven to ten years,” said Father Erik Esparza, Associate Director of Priest Personnel.
Three priests from the Heralds of Good News will minister in the Diocese, all assigned to different parishes. Before the priests came to the United States Msgr. Lopez and Fr. Esparza met with them via Skype.
“We used Skype for the first time to speak with men and get an idea of who they were,” said Fr. Esparza.
Father Suresh Manickam has already arrived at his new parish in the Diocese, Our Lady of the Desert in Apple Valley.
“The people and culture are very different, but I am very happy here, and everything is going well,” he said.
The other two Heralds of Good News priests coming to the Diocese are Father Abil Raj Pannerseluam and Father Jude Lourdhurajihgn. They are assigned to St. Anthony Parish in San Jacinto and St. Joan of Arc, in Victorville, respectively.
Both Missionary Society of the Philipines (MSP) and Comboni Missionaries have had a past connection to the Diocese so Bishop Barnes had asked that communication with them remain open in case they had a future interest in sending priests here, according to Msgr. Lopez.
MSP Father Manuel Jadraque is serving as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Chino while MSP Father Eliseo Napiere is serving as a Parochial Vicar at St. Edward Parish in Corona. Bishop Barnes has entrusted the Comboni Missionaries with the pastoral care of Sacred Heart Parish in Jurupa Valley. Father Gerardo De Tomassi is now serving there as a Priest Minister and Father Andres Garcia Chavez will arrive Dec. 1 to serve as Pastor.
Currently there are 168 religious order priests from 34 different communities serving in the Diocese, outnumbering the number of Diocesan priests in active ministry. Even with that benefit, there is still only one priest for every 6,117 parishioners in the Diocese, one of the most challenging ratios of any diocese in the nation.