Fr Larry Tolentino: new priest for the Diocese of Parramatta
|Photography: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu.|
By Virginia Knight, Catholic Outlook, August 2012
The Diocese of Parramatta’s newest priest, Fr Arnulfo Abelardo ‘Larry’ Tolentino, was ordained in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 29 June 2012.
Bishop Anthony Fisher OP presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Bishop Robert McGuckin, recently appointed Bishop of Toowoomba, and clergy of the Diocese of Parramatta.
Fr Larry said he felt both humbled and challenged during the ceremony, respectful of the privilege of his ordination and looking forward to all that his ministry as a priest will bring.
“I have never been as happy as I am now,” Fr Larry said. “When I became a priest and even before in ministry as a deacon I realised how privileged I was to be able to celebrate the sacraments. It is just awesome to be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.”
In his homily, Bishop Anthony told of how young Larry, aged about six, went to Mass with his mother. “At the offertory he saw people bringing up bread and wine, fruit, rice and other items common in Filipino culture. A man in white received the bounty with a smile.
“After Mass his mother noticed that Larry was unusually pensive, and asked if he was sick. (People still ask that, if Larry is quiet for long.) ‘I’m not sick,’ young Larry declared, ‘but Mum, who was that man in the white dress?’
“‘That’s the priest,’ she explained, ‘the one who brings Jesus to the people.’
“‘Mum, can I be like him?’ Larry asked. ‘Why?’ asked his mother, her heart perhaps thrilled, perhaps full of foreboding, perhaps both. ‘Do you want to become a priest?’
“Not knowing what a priest was, Larry answered yes. His mother asked why. ‘Because I saw many people give him lots of food. When I grow up I would like people to give me lots of food too.’
“Little did Larry know that he’d one day have the best seminary cook in the world. Or be in a diocese so multicultural there’s every cuisine imaginable. One that one in five people in that diocese would be of Filipino background so that there’s plenty of lumpia, lechón, macapuno, even balut.
“Now Larry himself must be the cook, the one who prepares the Eucharistic meal by which ordinary men and women are fed the Bread of Angels, the very Body and Blood of Christ the Lord.
“In recalling the great culture from which Larry hails, I call today upon all Filipinos of this Diocese to be proud of their Catholic heritage and keep strengthening and energising the rest of us, including giving us vocations.”
Fr Larry celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish at Greystanes, where he has been appointed Assistant Priest.
He said he was deeply moved by the presence of many people from the parishes he had worked in during his formation. “In my thanksgiving speech, I was unable to control my emotions, shedding tears of happiness. I hope and pray that God will allow me to see Him more and continue to feel His presence in every sacrament I come to celebrate.”
Fr Larry thanked all those who had prayed for him and supported him, moved by the smiles on the faces of those in the congregation and their very positive response. He asked parishioners to continue to pray for him, that he will always remain strong in his commitment to his vocation.
And having attended World Youth Day in Madrid last year, he is looking forward to WYD Rio in 2013, this time accompanying the pilgrims as a chaplain at the invitation of Bishop Anthony.
“Last year I experienced the faith of people from so many different cultures. I look forward to being a part of keeping this faith alive in the hearts of the young people,” he said.
Go to Photo Gallery
Download Bishop Anthony’s homily and view a photo gallery of the Mass at: http://www.parra.catholic.org.au/_preview
To watch a video of Fr Larry describe the experience of being a pilgrim to World Youth Day click on “Testimonials” at www.parrawyd.org
Watch a video of this Pastoral Message from Bishop Anthony at www.parra.catholic.org.au
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