REGINA — “In the ritual, the first thing we have heard is the name, Arpee Urquico,” said Winnipeg Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber as he began his homily. “That is so significant, and that’s just not to make sure that he is here; it is God calling him by name. The church in the name of Jesus has determined that Arpee should be ordained a deacon.”
And so on Sept. 2 in Holy Rosary Cathedral began the second-last step for Urquico to become a priest. That is expected sometime in 2017 after he completes another year of studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton.
The new deacon arrived from Philippines about five years ago after his cousin, Rev. Gerard Joy Montiague, living in Prince Albert, convinced him to come to Canada as a missionary. He completed some studies in Philippines then came to Canada and entered St. Joseph Seminary. He spent year of internship at St. George’s Parish, Assiniboia, Sask., where Weisgerber on April 3 officially accepted him as a candidate for priesthood.
Weisgerber spoke in his homily of two daily reminders of God’s call to love: recitation of the breviary and the observation of celibacy. The breviary is “the prayer of the church” and is read every day. Celibacy gives freedom from family responsibilities, so the priest “can completely give himself to this life of prayer and service.”
Urquico responded in a loud voice to each question posed by Weisgerber during the examination of the candidate part of the ordination ceremony: to be obedient to his bishop, to observe celibacy, and preach the Gospel — adding at the end of the questions, “with the help of God.” That was followed by recitation of the Litany of Saints with everyone kneeling and Urquico prostrate on a rug below the sanctuary.
Montiague and one of Urquico’s teachers, Rev. Robert Gauthier, vested the new deacon with a stole and the dalmatic (a loose-sleeved robe), after which Weisgerber presented him with the Gospels.
In recognition of Urquico’s heritage, the second reading for the day was in Tagalog, the Philippine language. The Regina Filipino choir provided some of the music ministry, along with the Archdiocesan Women’s Schola, with Valery Hall as organist.
Several of his fellow seminarians and teachers journeyed to Regina for the ordination. His mother, who was unable to obtain a visa, watched the service through live streaming.
Following the service, Urquico thanked his teachers and friends for their support — particularly the people of St. George’s Parish, Assiniboia, for allowing him to be part of their lives.
A reception featuring several Filipino foods was held in the cathedral auditorium immediately following the ceremony.