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Three priests accept calls to local and missionary service

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Archbishop ordains Fathers Juan Lucca, Giovanni Schiesari, and Francesco Voltaggio
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Fathers Juan Lucca, Giovanni Schiesari, and Francesco Voltaggio lay prostrate during their ordination ceremony June 3. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

Cheers and applause reverberated through Holy Rosary Cathedral as friends, families, and well-wishers welcomed three men in their vocations to the priesthood.

Juan Lucca, Giovanni Schiesari, and Francesco Voltaggio were ordained to the priesthood Saturday, June 3, by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who in his homily called them to love their parishioners unconditionally.

“As priests, you will be totally consecrated to Christ, set aside for him, so that through the gift of yourself he can make use of you as shepherds of his people,” said the archbishop.

“Have an unconditional love for your flock, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all: attentive to those close to you and ever ready to go out and meet those who are distant, and always bringing the good news of the infinite mercy of God with your reassuring words of hope.”

Visitors came from as far as Israel, Italy, and Venezuela for the solemn ceremony, filling the cathedral to overflowing, forcing dozens to stand in doorways or in the outside heat.

“Today has been a truly beautiful day,” said Venezuelan-born Father Lucca afterward. “The church is packed! It will be burned in my memory.”

Father Voltaggio, originally from Rome, spoke humbly into the microphone with thanks to his supporters and spiritual directors.

“If I am here, it is just a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not myself,” he said after addressing his family in Italian and thanking Archbishop Miller, the Neocatechumenal Way, and Star of the Sea Parish.

“I really felt that the Lord called me because I was lost, and so, at the same time, he called me to go to the lost sheep. I was one of them. I ask you to pray for me, to give love to others, not myself.”

Father Schiesari, who was born in northern Italy, called his ordination a miracle. “After so many years of formation, finally, alleluia!”

“There is no shepherd without sheep, so I need your help,” he added. “If I’m going to be a good shepherd, a true shepherd with the heart of Christ, I need my sheep to guide me and wake me up.”

The new priests stayed in the cathedral after ordination to give their first blessings to family members, friends, and well-wishers standing in line.

“It’s beautiful to see how joyful he is,” said Cristina Lucca, Father Lucca’s sister.

“He’s the youngest in the family. When I remember him, he was a 13-year-old, and now he’s a priest and we’re going to call him Father!”

Juan Lucca was 12 years old when he decided he wanted to become a priest, said his father, Luis. “He told me: ‘Dad, next year I want to go to the seminary.’ I said: ‘No. You’re crazy! What happened? You’re 12 years old,” Luis laughed.

According to Luis, the reply was: “Okay Dad, I won’t go. But my head wants to go. If I don’t go, the rest of my life, I won’t know.”

Luis conceded that his son could go to seminary for one year. That short stay stretched to 14 years and a lifetime vocation. “I feel so proud. There are no words to explain,” said Luis, who travelled from Venezuela for the ordination.

He believes his son will make an excellent priest. “He’s been like that from the beginning. When he was four years old and I would repair my car or clean, he would come to say: ‘Daddy, can I help you?’”

For every 10-minute homily, Luis said his son spends three hours reading and preparing. “I’m very impressed.”

Italy was well represented in the crowd, which included families of Fathers Schiesari and Voltaggio.

“I am very happy. Fantastic,” said Donatella Basso, the mother of Father Schiesari, who had travelled from Verona, Italy, for the ordination.

Filippo Ammannito is confident his cousin Father Voltaggio will be an outstanding priest.

“It’s his way. He’s determined to do this,” he said. “I’m very happy for him. If he has chosen this way, all the family accompanies him.”

Other special guests included visiting Bishop Joseph Chau of Lang Son, Vietnam, retired Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops, Father Matthew Gerlich, rector of the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, and Father Francesco Voltaggio, rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Israel and uncle of Father Francesco Voltaggio.

Both of the new Italian priests are members of the Neocatechumenal Way and were ordained with a special mission of evangelizing in Asia, while Father Lucca was ordained for service in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The celebration continued around the corner at a reception in Rosary Hall, with refreshments and joyous family members gathered around a piano and singing in Italian.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2017 10:04  

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