Archdiocese of Seattle blessed with first Chamorro priest

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Father Kyle Manglona, the first Chamorro priest for the Archdiocese of Seattle enjoys a moment with his parents, Joe and Barbara Manglona formerly of Yona, Guam. Fr. Kyle Manglona was ordained a priest by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain for the Archdiocese of Seattle on June 25, 2016 at Saint James Cathedral. (Photo courtesy of Cyril Macaraeg (Litratofoto.Com))

By Deacon Ronie San Nicolas
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

With three other transitional deacons and classmates Fr. Kyle Manglona was ordained a priest by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain for the Archdiocese of Seattle on June 25, 2016 at Saint James Cathedral.

Fr. Kyle is the first priest of Chamorro descent ordained for the Archdiocese of Seattle.  He celebrated his first Mass the following day at Queen of Heaven parish in Spanaway, Washington which was well attended by parishioners and the Chamorro community of Western Washington.  He is presently serving as the parochial vicar for Saint Charles Borromeo parish in Tacoma.

Fr. Kyle provided a reflection of his journey to the priesthood and shares his thoughts in this exclusive interview for the Umatuna Si Yu’os.

Who influenced you to consider the vocation to the priesthood?

I was blessed to grow up in an atmosphere of faith where my parents could instill in me the connection between the Church and the family which our culture holds so dear. Thankfully, I was also surrounded by holy and dedicated parish priests as well as the love and support of a large Chamorro community. When I was a kid, my parish priest, Fr. Michael McDermott, was someone I always looked up to. From a young age, I had a fascination and love for the Holy Mass, and he encouraged me to think about becoming a priest.

In the years that followed, it was other diocesan priests who helped foster a love for the priesthood and inspired me to join the seminary. Fr. McDermott is the pastor of the parish which I am assigned to now — in God’s providence, things truly come full circle. 

“In the last several years, I’ve began to foster a devotion to St. Pedro Calungsod and another Jesuit, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores because of their importance to the Chamorro people.”

Father Kyle Manglona shares a photo with members of the Chamorro community and parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish in Tacoma. (Photo courtesy of Cyril Macaraeg (Litratofoto.Com))
Father Kyle Manglona shares a photo with members of the Chamorro community and parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish in Tacoma. (Photo courtesy of Cyril Macaraeg (Litratofoto.Com))

What would people be surprised to learn about you as a priest?

People are always surprised to find out that I am an only child. I should preface that by saying that, in reality, I was raised as an only child. I had an older brother who passed away tragically at a young age. That was really a turning point for my family and a door to God’s grace which not many families have to deal with. Through my parents sorrow and their total reliance on God for peace and healing, I learned at a young age that the faith was something which was non-negotiable; it was essential for my life.

Also, and this isn’t true of just me, people are surprised when they see priests doing “normal” things, like drinking beer or listening to Coldplay (both things I love to do). 

Who is your favorite saint?

Throughout my formation, I’ve had a close relationship with the Society of Jesus, and consequently, the great Jesuit saints of history have always been my personal heroes and intercessors like St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, just to name a few. In the last several years, I’ve began to foster a devotion to St. Pedro Calungsod and another Jesuit, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores because of their importance to the Chamorro people. I was present in St. Peter’s Square along with Msgr. James Benavente for the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod a couple of years ago! 

What have been some of the greatest joys for you as a newly ordained priest?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Holy Mass and every time I celebrate the Eucharist I am blown away that God has called me to this service for his people. Certainly, I’m not worthy — but I think that is the point. No one is worthy for this sacred duty, but God, in his love, calls men to this service for and with his Holy People. It is truly humbling. I also love hearing confessions because it is a privileged place to see God’s hand at work in people’s lives. 

What are some ways that we can promote and support vocations to the priesthood and religious life?

The “discovery” of a vocation begins in the family. Mothers and fathers are the first and foundational teachers of the faith. Parents should emphasize the importance of the faith and encourage their children to consider the various ways of living out the Christian call to holiness. Secondly, we can never underestimate the efficacy of prayer. As a community, we should be praying for holy vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and matrimony.

I also think it is vital that dioceses, as well as cultures, are fostering “home-grown” vocations. That is to say, it is a healthy sign when a diocese is fostering vocations from among the families and cultures it represents. In no way is that a slight to the great missionary priests who have served in the history of the Church (and there are countless!), but rather a fruit which comes from a successful missionary endeavor. 

What advice would you give to a young man who is contemplating a vocation to the priesthood?

Aside from the essentials of daily mass, frequent confession, spiritual direction, and a Marian devotion, I would encourage men to pray about sacrifice. We live in a world which teaches us to be exclusively concerned with our own needs, desires, and goals. But an authentic Christian man, and in particular a priest, is first and foremost a “man for others,” to borrow an Ignatian term. Certainly, both a vocation to the priesthood and marriage requires a great deal of sacrifice, but how that unfolds in each vocation is very distinct. A man called to serve God as a priest should have a holy desire to offer his life in complete sacrifice to God’s People — he should at all times be willing to take himself out of the equation, and to see to it that the souls under his care are on their way to heaven. If that life attracts you, the priesthood is probably the best fit.