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 “It was a long process, and it should be. It should be thorough,” Kirk said. “After I found out, there was less anxiety. It was a relief.”

 Kirk, a parishioner from St. Frances de Sales, Riverside, is among five new seminarians accepted into Blessed Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace to prepare for the diocesan priesthood. 

 Joining the 38 diocesan seminarians this year are Alfredo Ledesma from Chicago; Jesse Leach from St. Margaret Mary Parish, Chino; Philip Kirk; Francisco Hassin from Sacred Heart, Rancho Cucamonga and Alex Corado from St. Louis, Cathedral City. 

 A recent convert to Catholicism, Leach entered the RCIA process in 2011 and was initiated in 2012. 

 “Not too long after or even while I was in the process of entering the Church, I just felt this feeling,” Leach said of his calling to the priesthood. “In the beginning I just put it off, but it never went away.”

 The five new seminarians moved into Blessed Junipero House of Formation on Aug. 23. They will now begin their initial formation at Serra House, while also taking classes at one of the local colleges. Later they will continue their formation at a seminary in Camarillo or San Antonio, Texas.

 “We are working to have more than 50 by next year,” Sr. Shrewsbury said. “It’s really important to pray for vocations of all kinds.”

 The vocations office was hoping to have a larger class enter formation this year, but is working to double its efforts this year by holding vocation dinners and more discernment evenings throughout the diocese. 

 “We appreciate the people who are promoting and praying for vocations,” Sr. Shrewsbury said. “We hope to have every parish have some type of vocations committee. We have been trying for years, but this year we are going to make more of an effort.”