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Called to Serve


Candidate journeys toward priesthood
By Frank Flegel


ASSINIBOIA, Sask. — His journey to the priesthood began four years ago in Philippines and Sunday April 3, Arpee Urquico took the third step in that journey, with Winnipeg Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber accepting him as a candidate. It’s the third step in that journey; the remaining two — ordination to the diaconate followed by ordination as a priest — will be completed sometime within about a year.

He is in Assiniboia, Sask., serving his internship at St. Georges’ Parish and wanted to take this third step in the church where he serves with Father Gerard Joy Montiague.

“This is my first assignment and it’s pretty important for me,” said Urquico in an interview with the PM.

He’s always wanted to be a priest, he said, because he saw the priests and seminarians in Philippines and they were all smiling and seemed so happy and he wanted to be like that. He wanted to enter the seminary even before he finished high school, but his mother insisted he complete school first. He entered the Dominican order and finished his philosophy studies and began theological studies soon after arriving in Canada four years ago.

His cousin, Rev. Roque Conception, a priest in the Prince Albert diocese, suggested he come to Saskatchewan as a “missionary.” Being a missionary appealed to him so he applied, came to Regina for a short while, then went to Edmonton for his theology education. He requested a small town for his year-long internship and was assigned to Assiniboia. “I think it is God’s will that I am here and I am happy.”

Weisgerber’s homily centred on the day’s readings, which spoke of mercy. April 3 was Mercy Sunday. The archbishop said the meaning of the Gospel is to be in God’s presence in Assiniboia today.

“We tend to mind our own business,” said the archbishop, “but God wants us to be there for others.”

He urged the congregation to know who are the poor among us and to be there for them. “The role of the priest is to make sure you do the work of Jesus. It is your role to share with others.”

After the homily, Urquico answered the call of the archbishop who said “The church is calling Arpee to be a priest. We accept and he is ready to go.”

Most of the prayers of petition were for the candidate.

Many of the congregation gathered in the church hall after mass for a potluck lunch.