If you would like to speak to someone about a priestly or religious vocation, including becoming a deacon, call the Office for Vocations at the Archdiocese of LA at 213.637.7515.
Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region contact: Fr. Juan Ochoa at (323) 465-7605 at Christ the King, Los Angeles.
“Becoming a priest or a man or woman religious is not primarily our own decision…Rather it is the response to a call and to a call of love.” –Pope Francis, Address to Seminarians and Novices, July 6, 2013
As Catholics, by virtue of our baptism, we are called to a vocation to serve and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in our lives. Some are called to single life, others to marriage, and still others to priesthood and religious life. Ultimately, this vocation is as unique as the person who is gifted with it.
In particular, discerning a priestly or religious vocation can be a challenge, especially when others, even those close to us, may not be encouraging. Candidates for religious life should exemplify the following:
On Sunday, May 2, in the Gospel we heard Jesus speak of the good shepherd who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them. This clearly is a reference to what Jesus, The Great Shepherd, did for us. It is the call of all shepherds as they care for their flock.
A vocation to the priesthood or religious life is the Lord’s call to serve the Church. Vocations to the priesthood are a focus of this Sunday’s liturgical celebrations since the scriptures tell the story of Jesus, The Good Shepherd. The Good shepherd lays down his life for his friends --- his community. St Monica has been blessed over the past several years to have nurtured a number of men who have entered the priesthood and religious life. Fr. Gregorio, Fr. John, Fr. Tim are all priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Patrick Augustin has returned to Washington, D.C. to study in his home archdiocese, while David Portorreal, recently ordained a transitional deacon, returned to Florida to complete his studies closer to his aging parents.
Fr. Patrick Agustin was a parishioner at St. Monica’s from 2012-2014, where he was active in YMA and sang in the Sunday 5:30 p.m. Choir. He was ordained a diocesan priest in June 2020 for the Archdiocese of Washington (DC). He is currently in Rome completing his studies for a License in Sacred Theology with a concentration in Dogma from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (also known as the Angelicum).
He says, "I am grateful to St. Monica’s for nurturing my love for young adult ministry, and I look forward to using what I learned there when I return to parish ministry as a parochial vicar this summer."
Shane Liesegang, SJ was a successful video game developer when he moved back to Los Angeles to continue his career, but got more than he bargained for when he decided to get involved at St. Monica. Through parish retreats, YMA, and the weekly Vespers group, he started to realize how fulfilling it was to engage with people about their faith. He had learned about the Jesuits in response to Pope Francis's election, and was moved by their devotion to social justice and service on the margins, as well as their imaginative spirituality. After a period of discernment, he began his Jesuit formation in 2015. Recently he finished his first cycle of studies and moved to Beirut, Lebanon to work for the regional office of the Jesuit Refugee Service for a few years, covering the Middle East and North Africa. It's challenging work, especially with the ongoing political and social crises in Lebanon, but he's grateful for the opportunity to serve God's people and try to improve things for those most in need of love.
Closer to home, I’d like to highlight, and invite your prayer for, one of our own shepherds, Fr. Dave Ayotte, who has been with us less than a year, and what a year it’s been, yes? He came in the middle of the pandemic, and even now many have never met him in person. Yet he casts the shadow of a shepherd, true to the image of the Good Shepherd, laying down his life for St. Monica’s ‘sheep.’ On Good Friday, his homily (click on the link starting at 45:00) at the noon Liturgy was remarkably moving.
As a shepherd, one never knows where the journey will lead. Fr. Dave has invited us to journey with him in a unique way as he and the medical team working with him confront the cancer that’s invaded his body and taken over his life. He has opened to us the challenges and the ups and downs of treatment, and this helps us, those he pastors, to understand how to embrace the Cross, how to let Christ the Great Shepherd take our hand as we walk with him.
Fr. Dave has shared intimately with us, reaching out. Let us take his hand, let us walk with him and support him.
Let this song of another David be our prayer for him and all shepherds today.
Psalm 23: A Psalm of David
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days.