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New priest welcomed by Holy Family congregation

Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - For Holy Family Catholic Churchs Father Rodel de Mesa, its about connecting spiritually - or with a fun game of basketball. The 700-family congregation of Holy Family Catholic Church in Eastmoreland has a new spiritual leader: Father Rodel de Mesa.

“Formerly, we were called Reverend, but as priests in our church, we are called Father, a title given to priests because we are the spiritual ‘Father of His flock’,” Fr. Rodel explained to THE BEE. “The official title is ‘Pastoral Administrator’, which is a functional description of the duties of the position.”

Originally from the Philippines, Fr. Rodel came to the United States about six years ago. “I had three years of studies at Mount Angel seminary, with the Benedictine monks. Then, I had one year internship in a parish in Northeast Portland.”

After his ordination, he was assigned as Pastoral Administrator in a small parish on the Oregon coast which included the cities of Bandon and Port Orford. “After two years of my ministry there, they assigned me here to Holy Family parish. I’m excited to be here.”

Fr. Rodel remarked that he had considered a career in computer software or becoming an engineer, but when he was 12 years old, he entered the seminary, primarily for the sake of having a good education. “In the Philippines we have high school seminaries: kind of like an exclusive school for boys. Even though I came there for a good education – and I'll also say sports, because I love playing basketball – I started to think more about entering the ministry.

“As I came into my theology, at the end of my college experience,” Fr. Rodel told THE BEE, “I felt the sense of happiness, in the sense of comfort with serving the people of my church. The priesthood, for me, is having the opportunity to accept the responsibility for my church family, and in my society, as well as in the community.”

As he joined the Holy Family congregation on the first of July, Fr. Rodel he wondered how he’d be accepted. “Coming into a new parish, one wonders about the unspoken questions – such as ‘Who is this new priest? My, isn’t he kind of young? Is he originally from another country?’”

But, as soon as he met the church members, those questions vanished, he said.

“I could feel the warmth of this church community from the moment I came in. I think we can make a lot of great things happen if we all walk together in faith.”

About the Holy Family Catholic School, he commented, “The school is thriving, so I don't think we need to change anything. Its major strength is the synergy of the church and the school working together; we are one Holy Family, in more ways than one.

“This relationship between the parish and the school – and as between the parents and the children – it’s all about building relationships for me,” Fr. Rodel observed. “Those relationships extend to the church, the parishioners, the school, the parents, and the children.”

He is looking forward to meeting with folks in the area, Fr. Rodel said. “It's all about relationships for me. We are a family here. I grew up in a culture where ‘family’ is extended to any visitor that comes into your house. In this case, I am in charge of God’s House here. Just come, and meet the people in our faith community.

“This community is about people gathering together to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. That faith is extended to everything that we do – even when we’re playing basketball in the gym!”

It's not just about coming to Mass every Sunday, Fr. Rodel commented. “Whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, of any religion, or secular, let’s look for common areas of thought where we can come together.”