By Jamie O’Brien and Josh Low
Newly ordained priests Fr Patricio Carerra Morales and Kenneth Acosta Garcia spoke to The Record Editor Jamie O’Brien and journalist Josh Low ahead of their Ordination on Friday 17 November at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Fr Kenneth, who hails from the Dominican Republic and Fr Patricio, from Guatemala, completed their formation at Redemptoris Mater Seminary Perth, and have each spent the last six months at Osborne Park and Baldivis Parishes respectively.
Father Patricio Carrera Morales first entered the seminary at 38 years old, two years after reconnecting with his Catholic faith through the Neocatechumenal Way in his native Guatemala.
Ordained to the Diaconate on 31 March this year at the age of 46, Fr Patricio has had the past six months to prepare for his Ordination to the Priesthood, and said his time spent in the diaconate has been an important time in his life.
“Entering the diaconate has meant the entry into the Sacrament of Holy Orders and has helped me to appreciate the mission of the Church more fully,” he said.
“First of all, it has been an immense gift given by God. Many times throughout these months of preparation, it has crossed my mind how I don’t deserve a gift like this.
“However, God still calls me and loves me in my unworthiness and with this in mind I hope the Lord may continue helping me to offer myself and my life more fully to Him in the order of the priesthood.”
Fr Patricio said the diaconate has also allowed him to witness the example of other priests serving with joy, which has been a source of inspiration.
“Seeing some of the priests I know serving the Church with joy and love, has made me desire to have the same spirit,” he said.
“The fact that I am even able to serve the Church here in Perth through my ministry has been humbling. The Lord calls me to serve him even though I don’t deserve it.”
He added that his experience at Baldivis Parish in being able to walk with the community on their journeys of faith has been something that has stood out in his ministry.
“I saw that the people in Baldivis were eager to hear the good news of Jesus Christ; it has been a strong moment of inspiration for me.
“Another amazing thing is being able to be with families in mission, who live their faith and were there to support me in my own faith too.
Fr Patricio sees priestly ministry as a sacrament of service to the Christian community which, like the Sacrament of Matrimony albeit with its own characteristics, calls us to live our baptismal promises in its fullness.
He added that through his ministry of service, he hopes to be able to reach out and be the face of Christ to all he comes across.
“I hope I can be an effective witness in bringing Christ to the people the Lord has already chosen for me to meet, and be able to announce the Gospel with the love and mercy of God to those far away from the Church,” he concluded.
Fr Kenneth seen hand of God in his life, finds his place in the Church
Born in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, Kenneth (Max) Acosta Garcia, 32, was brought up by his mother and grandparents.
However, he recalled, because his parents were divorced, he felt insecure for many years.
However, becoming an altar boy at his local parish and joining the Neocatechumenal Way helped him understand what God was calling him to.
“I was really unhappy as a young man. I felt that the Neocatechumenal Way was good for me because I felt that I had finally found my place in the Church,” he said.
“I had this longing constantly to go to church, to do something, to be involved, but we were not really encouraged [when I was young].
“In the midst of all the confusion of my life, I began ‘walking’ in a Neocatechumenal community (after listening to a catechesis in my parish) and that was a good thing for my life, for example when I learnt the guitar and became a cantor.
“Things started to fall into place a bit and I became more active in the parish, and then I became part of the pre-seminary group.”
However, it was not until several years later that he felt ready to consider his vocation to the priesthood.
“I didn’t really know how to start.
“I had some friends who were seminarians so I knew the type of life you have in the seminary, you have to study a lot, and I wasn’t a good student so I thought, no the priesthood is not for me,” Fr Kenneth said.
“But I always had this call constantly within myself, which started when I was an altar boy.”
Despite carrying on with other parts of his life – looking for a girlfriend and studying Business Administration at university – Fr Kenneth says he felt a lack of fulfilment in his life, which prompted him to take the step into his vocation.
“I was wandering with my life, but nothing helped me make a decision or take the jump.
“In 2007 I went to Loreto for a European Youth Meeting which ended up being the World Youth Meeting, and it was there that I confirmed my calling.
“It was from then that I realised there was lots of fear, but I said to God, ‘I think you are calling me. With my weakness, with my sins, with my insecurity. But I think if this comes from You, You will help me’.”
Fr Kenneth also recalled the impact of priests from his parish, Fr Pedro Flores, Fr Cantalino Pejava and Fr Omar Santos, who later became Rector of the Seminary in Nicaragua.
“This was because of their missionary zeal, the way they preached, their passion for helping the people, being able to reach people, particularly with the sacrament of confession
“It helped me and I felt called to do this too,” he said.
In his new role, Fr Kenneth said he is looking forward to giving more to the Archdiocesan community.
“I want to do my best to reach people to give them hope, to break the bread through the Eucharist for them,” he said.
“To help them understand that Christ is not ashamed of them, always bringing the love and mercy of Christ to them.
“I have seen the hand of God in my life and I know everything is possible through him,” he concluded.