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JOYFUL DAY Bishop Alberto Rojas ordained seven men to the priesthood on May 20 at St. Paul the Apostle, Chino Hills. The ordination class of seven was the largest in the history of the Diocese, surpassing the previous record of six set in both 2008 and 2016. From left to right, Father Maurice Quindoy, Father Bryant Rivas, Father Jonathan Garcia, Father Rafael Flores, Bishop Alberto Rojas, Father Richard Ahumada, Father Carlos Flores and Father Julian Plascencia Gomez. TOP RIGHT: Father Julian Plascencia Gomez embraces Bishop Alberto Rojas at the Ordination Mass. BOTTOM RIGHT: The seven men lie prostrate as a symbol of humility and submission to God moments before they are ordained to the priesthood. 

CHINO HILLS—Lorena Castillo was one of an estimated 2,000 people who came to St. Paul the Apostle Church on May 20 to witness that largest class of new priests ever ordained for the Diocese of San Bernardino. It was her first priest ordination and when it was over, she was nearly speechless.

“I had no idea. Every step was beautiful,” said Castillo, who came to the Ordination because she is friends with the mother of Rafael Flores, one of the men who was ordained. “This was like a wedding. These young men are giving their lives to God.”

In all, seven were ordained to the priesthood, eclipsing the previous record of six, set in both 2008 and 2016. The seven are Father Richard Ahumada, Father Carlos Flores, Father Rafael Flores, Father Jonathan Garcia, Father Julian Plascencia Gomez, Father Maurice Quindoy and Father Bryant Rivas.

The record number of new priests meant an even bigger crowd than a typically well-attended Ordination Mass. St. Paul the Apostle was filled to its 1,500-seat capacity with an additional 200-300 standing in the vestibule area and the rear walkways of the church, plus another 300 watching a live feed of the liturgy in the parish hall nearby. At press time, more than 5,700 people had viewed the Ordination Mass on the Diocesan YouTube channel.

“It was reviving to see the people, and the Bishop and the whole community of God,” Fr. Carlos Flores said of his Ordination day. “I’m happy and excited begin my ministry.”

Alina Jimenez came to the Ordination in support of Fr. Quindoy, a long-time friend going back to his days as a pharmacist. She said she remembers talking with Quindoy when he first heard the call to the priesthood.

“I’m very proud of him,” Jimenez said. “He wants to do so many things. He wants to serve God with all his heart.”

In his homily, Bishop Alberto Rojas echoed that same theme of self-giving – even as society is increasingly self-centered.

“In many ways the responsibility entrusted to you is countercultural,” Bishop Rojas said. “The world around us places such a value on self-fulfillment, autonomy, material goods and doing your own thing.

“It is an exciting and challenging time to be a priest, but you have to remember that you are being ordained not for yourself … but for the service of God and his people.”

Fr. Ahumada begins his journey in the priesthood after 11 years in seminary formation, the last two as a transitional deacon. He said he received the Bishop’s message loud and clear.

“I felt the Holy Spirit with me because it was a day I longed for,” Fr. Aahumada said of the Ordination Mass. Now as his ministry begins, he says, “The priesthood isn’t for me, it’s for the people.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Rojas announced each new priest’s parish assignment, a much-anticipated moment of the day. Fr. Bryant Rivas will be assigned to St. Anthony, San Jacinto; Fr. Maurice Quindoy will be assigned to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Beaumont/Banning; Fr. Jonathan Garcia will be assigned to Sacred Heart, Palm Desert; Fr. Carlos Flores will be assigned to Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, San Bernardino; Fr. Julian Plascencia Gomez will be assigned to Holy Family, Hesperia; Fr. Rafael Flores will be assigned to St. Adelaide, Highland; and Fr. Richard Ahumada will be assigned to St. Frances of Rome, Wildomar.