Picture taken by Mary Seamans of the Catholic Accent
The three are Fathers Andres Gumangan (Father Andy), Ricardo Cortez (Father Ricky) and Gregorio Soldevilla (Father Greg). These men have left their families and loved ones, their dioceses (at the invitation of their bishops), and their culture and priestly experience to venture into something new, yet ever the same - priesthood. In looking at the stats from their respective dioceses in the Philippines, I am embarrassed that we asked them to come and help us, since their own circumstances are much worse that what we experience in terms of priest/people ratio. And yet I am very grateful for the help that they provide in these days of shrinking numbers of clergy in this area. They are great guys who have joined with nine other Filipino priests who are currently assigned in the Greensburg Diocese, in a program initiated by our retired bishop, Lawrence Brandt.
After Mass I took them to dinner and returned them to the Bishop Connare Center where they are residing during their orientation period. They spoke so highly of their welcome by our parishioners that I had to promise them, in front of everyone, dessert. There were even a few families at dinner who had been at Mass who made sure I upheld my end of the promise. It was a great evening with new friends and dedicated brothers.