Chamorro ordained in Archdiocese of Miami

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Father Arriola comes home to celebrate first Mass on Guam

By Jennifer Louise Dulla
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

James Mathew Rabon Arriola, 28, of Barrigada was ordained to the priesthood on May 13, 2017 in the Cathedral of Saint Mary for the Archdiocese of Miami in Florida. He recently returned to Guam to celebrate Mass in his home island for the first time.

Archbishop of Miami, Most Rev. Thomas Wenski was the presider and homilist during the ordination Mass. Miami Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino, other retired bishops, and many priests from the Archdiocese of Miami also attended.

Fr. James was one of nine men being ordained for the Archdiocese of Miami, which was the biggest class in the last 20 years.

Fr. James’ family and friends attended the ordination Mass. Guam priest Fr. Adrian Cristobal concelebrated the Mass and had the honor of vesting him. “I was very happy to be vested by Fr. Adrian because he was there since the beginning and has helped me a lot to discover and nurture my vocation,” Fr. James noted.

Fr. James was born in Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan in 1988 then grew up on Guam and stayed in Barrigada and Ordot. He was raised Catholic said he owes his Christian roots to his parents Juan and Veronica Arriola of Barrigada and his grandparents Juan and Ana Arriola (paternal) and Jose and Teofila Rabon (maternal) who made sure that his family was in Church without feeling forced. His seven siblings are: Juan III, Allan, James, Tiffany, Paul, Rebekah and Felicity.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami ordained nine men to the priesthood, the largest archdiocesan class in decades, on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, May 13, 2017 at St. Mary Cathedral in Miami, Florida. L-R: Fr. James Arriola of Guam, Fr. Alexander Rivera, Fr. Luis Flores, Fr. Edgardo “Gary” De Los Santos, the archbishop, Fr. Oswaldo Agudelo, Fr. Joseph Maalouf, Fr. Mathew Padickal Thomas, Fr. Luis Pavon and Fr. Juan Carlos Salazar. (Photo by Marlene Quaroni.)

Fr. James attended P.C. Lujan Elementary, Untalan Middle School and George Washington High School (Class of 2006). He received his formation at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Guam and the Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores Theological Institute of Oceania in Yona then was later assigned to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Miami.

Fr. James discovered his vocation through the Neocatechumenal Way in which he said he was  able to see how much God was working in his life and to see the plan he had for him.  Another big help in him answering the call to the priesthood was through the many World Youth Days he attended which he described as “life changing” as he saw many youth giving their life to the Gospel.

Father James Arriola is pictured with members of his family at San Vicente Ferrer-San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada on Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017. L-R: Veronica “Vicky” Arriola (mother), Rebekah Arriola (sister), Fr. James, Felicity (sister), Juan Arriola (father); and Paul Arriola (brother). (Photo by Dennis Santo Tomas.)

“The eight years I spent in the seminary were very formative both humanly, as a person, and spiritually. What sustained me the most was prayer, constant dialogue with the Lord in all things,” Fr. James continued.

Fr. James expressed that being ordained a priest for the New Evangelization is an endeavor he is very happy to be part of. “I am very grateful for those who have come from afar to announce the Kerygma to me and now I get to do the same,” he stated.

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017, Fr. James Arriola celebrated his First Mass at San Vicente Ferrer-San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada at 10 a.m. The church was filled with parishioners, family and friends. He said, “I am very grateful and proud to be celebrating in my home parish and I thank Fr. Joel for the warm welcome.”

Fr. James looks forward to the adventure God has in store for him. “Looking at my life, God has brought me to a lot of places and I met a lot of holy people who helped me,” Fr. James stated, “I look forward to helping people in their journey of faith as much as God allows. My mission is to give my life wherever I am sent. The best way to help the Church grow in faith is to never to stop growing in the love of God.”

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