by ROWENA OREJANA
The Filipino community celebrated the gift of two newly ordained priests with a Mass at St Joseph’s Church in Balmoral on May 24.
Frs Carlos Guleng and Nathaniel Tat Brazil celebrated the Mass with Auckland Filipino community chaplain Fr Catalino Miranda as well as Frs Sherwin Lapaan and Richard Cortes.
Fr Guleng was ordained on May 2 at St Patrick’s Cathedral by Bishop Patrick Dunn. A late bloomer in terms of vocation, he entered the seminary at the age of 54. He was a former worker for a power company and a coworker for the Missionaries of Charity.
He arrived in New Zealand in 1994 and became a teacher of catechism and sacramental preparation in Auckland. He said that through the years he had a longing to serve God through priesthood. He hopes to convey the love of God to “our brothers and sisters” out there.
Fr Brazil, on the other hand, said that, as a child, priests were his role-models.
“They were respected and, as a child, I always had a fascination with their clothes,” he said.
At 28, the priest has a cheerful personality and often cracks jokes. He entered a seminary in the Philippines but felt compelled to try life outside its walls.
“I was a call boy,” he joked, explaining that he worked at a call centre. “I experienced life outside the seminary, but even at that time I was attracting my workmates to the faith. They knew I was a seminarian and I would often invite them to pray or go to Mass at the Edsa
His journey to New Zealand came in the form of an invitation from Fr Larry Rustia, assistant priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral.“We knew each other from the seminary, and when then Bishop Peter Cullinane’s seminarians asked if Fr Larry knew anyone who would like to study for priesthood here, he [Fr Larry] thought of me,” he said.
Fr Brazil said there are a lot of differences between the Church here and in the Philippines. He noted that here, the Church is more collaborative with lay people.
When he was ordained by Bishop Charles Drennan in Palmerston North, the different communities went out and helped organise the event — for which he was very grateful.
“I left my family when I came to New Zealand, but I felt the warmth of their welcome. On that day, I felt immense joy,” he said.
“Although the country has become secular, our mission is to inspire others to our faith,” he said.
by ROWENA OREJANA