Monday, August 3, 2009

The New Kid in Town

By Rev. Manuel "Manny" Cardoza
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula

I was speaking to a group of kiddoes last month after my ordination and I was telling them that having such a close relationship with Jesus was totally awesome, but also crazy scary. I told them that the thing we have to realize when journeying with Jesus was that he will take you places where you didn’t expect or at times don’t even want to go. But when you give your life to him he won’t lead you astray. In seminary I did a various amount of ministries from working in a nursing home, RCIA, prison ministry, as a parish and the Emergency Room at a hospital. Some of these I was totally trippin about, I was like “Jesus what the heck, dude!” But as usual Jesus was on top of everything and I loved doing each of these ministries. I also went to some pretty awesome places, like San Antonio, New York City, London and Italy. All these experiences really helped me have a fuller understanding of what it meant to be a priest. We are truly called to be a servant as Jesus was as well as to help folks have a closer relationship with the Lord, that they may have everlasting life. This is why he sent me here to St. Catherine of Alexandria, [Temecula] to assist the people of St. Catherine in their faith journey.

This first two months as a priest have been awesome. Jesus was right when he called me to this thing, the holy priesthood, and I could already see the countless blessings that this call has given. For my first weekend at the parish I was preaching at all the Masses, in order that the parish could get to know me and I could start meeting all the wonderful people here at the parish. But as you might imagine, after six Masses, it was wearing on me, even at a youthful 31 years old. On returning for the final 6 p.m. Mass, I was like “all right Jesus, you’re gonna have to get me through this one, I’m pooped!” And of course he responded in kind, giving me so much energy and enthusiasm that I was hyped up for another two hours after the mass!

This is just one example of the blessings and graces that the Lord gives you in order to give yourself completely to the people and love them as he loves them. Just knowing that the Lord has granted us this power to change bread and wine to his body and blood, the authority to forgive sins and the power to make new Christians is so awesome and overwhelming. Even the people of God, they are so gracious and loving that, through their faith, they help me on my journey as a priest. As the “new kid in town” it has been such a blessing going from seminary living to being a priest for the diocese as well as for this parish. I am grateful to Almighty God for his gift of the priesthood as well as the gift of the People of God. Let us continue to journey as one people to our ultimate goal, to spend eternity with our loving God and remember, “Jesus loves you!”


  1. Father,

    I can almost feel your excitement by just reading your words! I will pray for you as you continue to lead your flock. I hope to someday meet you up here at St. Joan of Arc in Victorville. May God bless you in your priestly ministry!

    Mr. Ed Rangel

  2. Thank you so much Mr. Rangel! I am totally excited to be here at St. Catherine of Alexandria and super-excited to be a priest! Thank you for your prayers and rest assure of my prayers for you and St. Joan of Arc! Tell Father Ciro hello for me!

  3. Father Manny,
    Praise God for your decision to follow Him in your life work. Your parish is right down the street from our Taco Shop (El Ranchito) on the corner of Temecula Parkway and Butterfield Stage. Come by anytime you feel hungry for good Mexican food. Efren Ramirez can bring you down, we were in the Diaconate class together until I took a leave of absence last year, I am back in now, but one year behind.
    Again, thank you for your ministry and hope to see you soon.


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