By Natalie Romano
Transitional Deacon Ian Hollick knows his first time celebrating Mass as a priest will be a “pinch me” kind of moment.
“I imagine when I first go up to the altar, I’m going to turn around to see if anybody is going to say, ‘come on Ian, stop playing around!’ ” laughs Hollick, currently assigned to our Our Lady of Hope, San Bernardino. “...But I’m terribly excited to celebrate the Eucharist.”
Hollick’s Ordination to the priesthood takes place May 29th at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rancho Cucamonga. He will be the first priest ordained by Bishop Alberto Rojas since he became the Ordinary Bishop of the Diocese. While attendees will witness the external transformation of Hollick, trading one vestment for another, he’s focused on the internal transformation.
“I’m excited about whatever the Lord bestows at Ordination,” says Hollick. “There’s a change that takes place in the soul and I’m grateful for the gifts that come with that.”
Hollick and his three siblings were raised in Corona by “loving but strict Catholic” parents. He attended St. Edward Catholic Church where he was an altar server, and later found a home at nearby Corpus Christi parish. The 34-year-old says he’s proud to now serve where he grew up.
“Being raised in this Diocese, I’m very happy to come home and watch how God is working in this particular area, because he is.”
Exactly where in the Diocese he’ll go is determined by Bishop Rojas and typically announced at the conclusion of the Ordination Mass. Although Hollick’s not sure of the parish, he’s sure of the priorities. He says his first goals are to transition into his new life, learn his responsibilities and minister.
“It’s really about conforming to Christ so I can be what this particular community needs,” explains Hollick. “I’m already praying for the people that I will meet and show God’s mercy to.”
As a transitional deacon, Hollick has gotten a taste of what’s to come. He’s been able to preach under the tutelage of Father Manuel Cordoza, Pastor of Our Lady of Hope. Ironically, the two crossed paths decades before as altar servers at St. Edward’s. Hollick says the experience of speaking before parishioners has been eye-opening.
“Some days it’s going really, really well, better than I could have ever hoped for, and other days it may have been too long...even to myself,” admits Hollick. “There’s also a different authority than when I was a seminarian. I’ve learned it’s not practice anymore.”
As Hollick hones his skills, he says someday he would love to preach like the late Catholic media pioneer Archbishop Fulton Sheen. His Ordination prayer card bears the images of two others he admires: Saint Francis of Assisi and John the Baptist. The latter he calls a bit of a renegade.
“That’s something I think the Church needs - priests to be wild strongmen not afraid to speak the truth when the time comes.”
Perhaps that sounds surprising from a man who used to be an accountant. But before that, he was a student athlete, and his desk job just didn’t have the same thrill as the baseball diamond. Hollick found himself seeking something else and started leading faith formation classes
at Corpus Christi.
“When I started teaching Catechism it hit me that saving souls is the most exciting thing to do on earth,” says Hollick. “I don’t know why that doesn’t seem exciting to more people.”
That was a mammoth shift in thinking since Hollick’s “image of happiness” had always been marriage and family. Yet he says he could feel God leading him in a different direction and “working in his soul.” Hollick shared this with his pastor at Corpus Christi who encouraged him to pursue the priesthood.
“It is a great privilege to have someone follow you,” says Father Gerald DeLuney, Pastor at Corpus Christi. “He responded and followed through and spent all this time preparing.”
That preparation took nearly a decade. Hollick started his seminary vocation at St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in 2012 then continued his education at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. Hollick’s mother says it’s been wonderful watching him grow on this “remarkable journey.”
“He has such a passion for teaching and sharing the good news,” says Victoria Hollick. “I’m looking forward to him doing that work, celebrating Mass and making a difference.”
Even though she can’t share this moment with her late husband, Victoria Hollick says she’s graced as a mother and grandmother. She has two new grandchildren, and her son is getting ordained.
“I was recently looking at baptism pictures and I know every child is special, but [Ian] is such a blessing for all of us.”
As the big day approaches, Hollick says he’s humbled and honored. He notes the advice he received from another priest about caring for his future parishioners.
“He said...their hearts are in your hands,” recalls Hollick. “...I hope that I can love their hearts the way Christ loves their hearts.”
Natalie Romano is a freelance writer and a parishioner of The Holy Name of Jesus in Redlands.