Five new priests ordained, welcomed into Archdiocese
June 16, 2015
HOUSTON – On Saturday, June 6, Catholics throughout the Houston-Galveston area welcomed five new priests when Daniel Cardinal DiNardo ordained David Angelino, Jeffrey Bame, Simon Kipiti, Elias Lopez and Richard McNeillie at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
“These men have walked a long journey to their goal of the priesthood,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “They will be a tremendous asset and a blessing to the Archdiocese. I congratulate them on their perseverance and commitment to serve as priests in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.”
Father Angelino, 26, first thought about becoming a priest when he was in grade school. By the time he finished high school, he knew that he was seriously considering the priesthood. “I knew I wanted to make sure that people were spiritually healthy and knew Jesus Christ,” he explained. In January 2008, after spending a semester at the University of St. Thomas, Father Angelino decided it was time to enter into the seminary.
He said he most looks forward to celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. “I hope that I can be generous with the people that I am called to serve and lead them closer to God.”
Houstonian Father McNeillie, 32, doesn’t remember hearing the word “vocation” until he was in college. “At the time, I had some friends who were considering the priesthood. They would ask me if I was being called, but it was kind of a joke…”
However, a few years later, while on a retreat, he began taking their question seriously. It was during the retreat when he first realized that God’s plans were probably different from his own.
“Several months later, while attending a Good Friday service, the priest read from the Diary of St. Faustina for the Stations of the Cross,” Father McNeillie said. “Listening to that dialogue between St. Faustina and Jesus, I heard for the first time God telling me that He loved me. My life was never the same after that. I knew before that experience that God had something different in mind, but now I wanted that different something, too.”
In 2008, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary. Father McNeillie said, “Since joining the seminary, life has been an adventure…I look forward to continuing the adventure.”
Father Bame, 31, had a powerful faith awakening during his confirmation retreat in high school that propelled him to “move beyond a merely personal faith” to one lived out in service and ministry.
“As I began to get greatly involved in liturgical ministries and youth ministry, the first stirrings of a possible vocation to the priesthood were awakened,” he said. “However, while I discerned and was in contact with the Vocations Office, it would ultimately take almost 10 years to be sure that this was indeed my calling.”
Father Bame received undergraduate and master’s degrees before starting a very successful corporate career.
“While I loved my career, I found that I was spending a lot of time, even at work, counseling people in spiritual matters,” he said. “For some reason, people often sought me out, and I came to realize that this fulfilled me more than any other activities in which I was engaged. When I took this back to prayer, I realized that God had indeed prepared this vocation for me.”
The journey towards the priesthood took a little while longer for Father Lopez, who recently turned 47. He worked in retail for 20 years prior to entering the seminary. While he was constantly searching and curious about his faith, Father Lopez did not discover the “beauty” of his faith until receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at the age of 31.
After being confirmed, “I was on fire for the Lord,” Father Lopez said. The true turning-point in his life came several years later when he was at a Mass, during which a family received a chalice that they would take home for a week and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“While we were praying over the family, I felt a burning in my heart and God spoke to me, “This is where I’m calling you. This is where I want you to serve,” he said. “I discerned for a year and a half before I decided to apply with the Archdiocese and enter the seminary.
“My hopes for my new life as a priest are to serve the people of God with love and mercy,” Father Lopez said. “I pray that God will bless my ministry in the same way He has blessed my life.”
Father Kipiti, 40, was born and raised in The Democratic Republic of Congo. He entered into a seminary in Kinshasa when he was 16. In 2008, Father Kipiti moved to Houston after being granted a visa in a national lottery. He spent his first three years in Houston learning English and the American culture, and working in a variety of jobs. In 2011, he was accepted into St. Mary’s Seminary to continue his priestly formation.
Father Kipiti said that his favorite Biblical quote is “The Lord said to Abraham: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and your father’s House to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
“This quote touches me so much because I considered myself as leaving my homeland with God’s plan in order announce the message of Love and Peace,” he said.