Throughout Santa Clara County and beyond several priests from the Diocese of San Jose are celebrating anniversaries of their ordination to the priesthood.
Monsignor John G. Sandersfeld marks 50 years as a priest this year. Meanwhile, Fathers Francisco Miramonte, Robert Kiefer, Jon Pedigo, Rick Rodoni, Matthew Stanley, Joseph Lieu Vu and Monsignor Francisco Rios mark their 25th anniversaries.
Here’s some insight into each of them. Some pieces are written by them and some by the people they serve or who know them well.
Father Lieu Vu
This milestone is the same as it has been for the past 25 years. I continue to carry out my commitment with God and the Church as a priest.
My vocation has been ups and downs. I am looking forward to the next steps hoping they will take me to where the Holy Spirit is calling me to.
Monsignor John G. Sandersfeld
Monsignor John Sandersfeld has spent some time this year reflecting on his 50 years as a priest in the Archdiocese of San Francsico and the Diocese of San Jose and he is grateful.
Earlier this year, the Monsignor spent five weeks in the hospital with a leg injury.
“I really thought about the people who formed my life and had an influence,” said Sanderfeld, whose first assignment was Saint Lawrence Parish in Santa Clara, “and I want to express my gratitude to them. The people of the Church have made my life a life of joy, happiness and fulfillment. It has always been a privilege to be a minister.”
Sandersfeld, who was ordained a priest on June 4, 1966, celebrated his milestone with a Mass on May 21 at Saint Francis of Assisi Parish. He was the founding Pastor at the Church in 1992 and spent 18 years serving there before retiring six years ago.
“It was a really great Mass,” Monsignor said. “People really wanted to be there. It is really God’s Parish. It’s not ours.”
Father Matt Stanley
It was 25 years ago that our class of six deacons were the first to be ordained in the newly renovated Cathedral of Saint Joseph by Bishop Pierre DuMaine.
One of the many blessings of my priesthood is stability. I have served in only three parishes in my 25 years: Saint Mary in Gilroy, Holy Family, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. I was so very fortunate during my early years as a priest to have had three wonderful pastors: Monsignor Francis Cilia, Father Dan Derry, and Father Barry Freyne. Truly, my most challenging year was 1998 when I first became a pastor. Don’t say ‘yes’ to everything on the first day! Two of my most rewarding experiences outside of the parish have been my work with Catholic Engaged Encounter and Cursillo.
Lastly, I have been enriched and influenced by the support of many parishioners with whom I have had the privilege to serve over these many years.
Father Robert Kiefer
I have no feelings one way or the other about celebrating 25 years. I could say that since I turned 3/4 of a century old this year I never gave much thought to celebrating a 1/4 century of priesthood.
When I was ordained I had a certain vision of priesthood, mostly formed by my seminary experience. I found that it was vastly different. Priesthood is about the people you encounter each day. As I have looked back I find that I am grateful for the people God placed in my life. My first assignment at Saint Justin was highlighted by my joy of being with the late Father Leo Rooney. He was a great mentor at that time. The staff was always patient with me as I was growing in my outlooks about ministry. My assignment with Fr. Leger at St. Frances Cabrini was also one of learning and he always seemed to care and talk with me. The staffs, parishioners, and friends I have encountered at my assignments and personal life have brought great beauty to my priesthood. (They probably will have no Purgatory time after putting up with me.)
God led me down a path which seems to have ultimately concluded in my retirement here in Las Vegas where I am kept busy at Guardian Angel Cathedral. Again, a beautiful assignment, surrounded with wonderful priests and staff where the congregation is visitors from all over the world.
I suppose my regrets are the loss of my best friend of almost 40 years, Father Bob Cipriano, in 2012, and then a few months later the loss of my friend Father Mark Catalana. I know both are with Our Lord and that part brings me great joy.
I can only thank God for the great blessings He has given to me in this magnificent vocation to serve His People.
On May 16, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish celebrated their Pastor Father Jon Pedigo’s, 25th Anniversary of Ordination. The liturgy was presided by the Bishop of the San Jose Diocese, Most Rev. Patrick J. McGrath. The homilist was Deacon Ruben Solorio and there were several vested concelebrants, and clergy with whom Father Jon works in attendance.
Members of Father Jon’s family came in from Hawaii to share the celebration. The Offertory Procession consisted of representatives from the parishes where Father Jon has ministered and the gifts brought up symbolized his unique contribution to the particular parish.
Prayers of the Faithful were done by people who are connected to Father Jon through his ministry in the parish and his work in Santa Clara County. A Mariachi band provided the music for this joyful celebration. Following the Liturgy was a festive celebration at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. A Ballet Folklorico children’s group performed, commendations were offered by political leaders, and there were community testimonies given by people who have benefited from the services of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Amigos de Guadalupe.
There was a delicious feast prepared by parishioners, and a silent auction was held. All of the proceeds went to Amigos de Guadalupe, the nonprofit that provides health, social and educational services in the Mayfair area of San Jose.
For more information regarding Amigos de Guadalupe (see page 7), and visit, www.amigoscenter.com.
Father Rick Rodoni
As best as I can recall, my vocation came as early as 5 years old when I woke from a dream of The Madonna and Child. During the dream, Mary told me, “All will go well for you.” No less important was the way my grandmother, father and mother gave witness to their faith in God that provided the means to follow and bring the dream of my vocation to life. My parents only did what many Catholic families were called to do at the time. There were lots of families that had experiences many loses as a result of WWII, but the practice of their faith never wavered. Their witness was enough for me to choose what seemed to truly fit as a lifelong practice of ministry and leadership.
Regarding my studies, I must give credit to Father Richard Fry who first questioned my capacity to study. Under his mentoring and direction, I learned the formation the Roman Church requires for candidacy to priesthood. Classical, modern, and post-modern thought were considered primary to our formation as priests as well as daily prayer and liturgy, recreation, field work in parishes, and memorable celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Once I completed my undergraduate studies at Saint Joseph College in Mt. View, I enrolled at the theologate of Saint Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, CA. For the seven years attending classes and formation at seminaries, I had the opportunity to pursue studies in humanities, philosophy, psychology, language arts, systematic theology, Christology, soteriology, ecumenism, Hispanic Studies, Church history, along with extra-curricular such as music, art, and softball. It was indeed a life changing experience that helped me to focus on what it means to be an ordained minister working to, with, by, and for the members of the Roman Catholic Church to make known the Good News of Jesus.
The changes are too many to enumerate. Suffice it to say, the last few years have been challenging for many Catholics because of the scandal of abuse of minors among members of the clergy. Even while I had read books regarding these matters early in my service as a priest, I could never have anticipated the pain that these cases have brought to the victims and the Church throughout the US. Nonetheless such an outcry for reform has never been more important or pertinent, and I trust we can move past this brokenness together transparently. Pope Francis has given me a good reason to hope. He may not be able to fully resolve what has been an unfortunate and dismal display of behavior among some of those ordained to ministry in the Church, yet he is living what is at the heart of the Gospel by demonstrating God love for others. That’s very hopeful, and it segues to the next question.
For the next 5 years, our parish needs further retrofitting for the future generations of families in Los Gatos. We’ve been in Los Gatos for over 100 years. Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception has been in Los Gatos since its beginning and remains as a support for becoming who we are now and for the succeeding generations. I see a new elementary school as the next new building for which we need to begin planning. We need to continue planning for welcoming new families and reaching to new and existing members. By continuing staff development, by joining the parish and school community as one, by engaging our youth and young adults, we are blazing the trail for the next generation.
Editor’s Note: At the time we went to press we had not received information from Father Francisco Miramonte or Monsignor Francisco Rios. Please stay tuned for a future issue of The Valley Catholic for their anniversary reflections.