Posted by: resparish | May 1, 2009

Allen Navarro’s Ordination to Priesthood – May 23rd

[Deacon Allen Navarro is among the seven men who will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop P.J. McGrath at 9:30 am, May 23rd, at St. Frances Cabrini Church in San Jose. Allen will preside at a Mass of Thanksgiving here at Resurrection on the next day, Sunday, May 24th, at 11:30 am and a reception will follow that Mass in Farana Center. The following is adapted from an article about Allen that appeared the “The Serran”, a newsletter of the San Jose Serra Club.]

It has been quite a journey for Deacon Allen Navarro. Born in the Philippines in 1974, Allen was brought up in a traditional Catholic home. He attended Catholic schools and enjoyed the time he spent in church during his four years as an altar server. In high school he was inspired by vocation programs presented by priests and seminarians but, initially, had no idea that he would one day be ordained to the priesthood. His dream was to become a career soldier and pilot. However, the priests continued to influence him and in 1990, at the age of sixteen, Allen entered the Filipino seminary of the Somascans, an Italian order founded by St. Jerome Emilliani. He made his Simple Vows in 1996 and received a degree in philosophy two years later.

After earning his degree Allen was assigned to spend two years working in an orphanage. That proved to be a difficult time. By the end of his orphanage assignment in 2000, Allen had been in the Somascans for 10 years but found himself still not ready to make the permanent commitment to the order which he would soon be expected to make through Solemn Vows. He applied for and was granted a temporary leave.

A month after taking his leave, Allen called home to let his mother know that he was OK. She told him that she had received a call from Fr. Daniel Urcia, the current pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Milpitas, who had originally introduced Allen to the Somascans. Fr. Dan had left the Philippines and had become a diocesan priest in America. He invited Allen to meet with Fr. Mark Catalana, the vocation director of the Diocese of San Jose. Fr. Mark invited Allen to enter the seminary in California. Allen wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to accept Fr. Mark’s invitation but decided that if his visa came through he would come to our diocese. In May of 2001 he had an embassy interview and he was on his way. By summer he was at St. Joseph’s Parish in Mountain View. He took English classes at Mission College and began adjusting to the new culture.

In August, 2001, at the age of 27, Allen entered St. Patrick’s Seminary. Unlike the Philippines where most study consisted of memorization, Allen found himself conversing about and completing assignments that required more introspection. He took on a work assignment in the seminary library and played basketball in his off hours.

Allen’s vocation journey soon took another twist. He was hit with a recurring medical problem that caused a severely painful spinal cord inflammation and put him out of study for three and a half years. While he recuperated, Resurrection Parish took him in and mentored him through this difficult time. Many times Allen thought he would not live through this period but God sustained him through the people he placed around him. Many times he thought of leaving the seminary but felt that it was God’s plan that he stay. He thought the illness was a sign that he should leave but no one gave up on him. By 2006 Allen was healthy and returned as a full-time student.

“Ordination”, Allen reflects, “is not a prize. The mandate is to serve the people of God.” He now feels that he is in a peaceful place and looks forward to a life of service. He is fulfilled by community work and giving pastoral care. Giving time to the elderly and the sick will be the highlight of his parish life. He feels especially alive in this ministry.

Allen will miss the prayer time, the “necessary evil” of studies, as he fondly puts it, and the brotherhood of the seminary community. Prayer is his personal connection, whether complaining or grateful. His favorite Scripture passage is Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” With a laugh Allen says, “I was known as a naughty boy by friends in high school. The Dominicans used to have to spank me. Teachers, family and friends thought it unbelievable that I entered the seminary.”

We are lucky he did! Best wishes and grateful prayers for Allen!