Bishop Anthony ordains Larry Tolentino to the Diaconate
By Virginia Knight
|Photography by Ryan Reyes.|
Arnulfo (Larry) Tolentino took a defining step on the path to priesthood when he was ordained to the Diaconate by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP on 11 November in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta.
Larry was visibly moved by the ceremony.
“When Bishop Anthony laid his hands on me and prayed over me, I felt like I was being born again, like all my sins were washed away and I was a new creation of God,” he said.
His first clerical appointment is Deacon to Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish at Greystanes.
Born in Manila in the Philippines on 25 May 1968 to Adelfa and Antonio Tolentino, Larry is the youngest of eight children. He attended primary and high schools in Manila, and completed Bachelor of Arts degrees in English Literature, Science and Business Management. He went on to achieve his Masters Degree in Education, Theatre Arts.
After graduating, Larry began teaching English literature to first year university students at San Sebastian in Manila and then became a member of the editorial team at the local TV network in the news department.
During this time he also became involved in parish ministry, writing, acting and directing religious plays based upon Jesus’ ‘passion’ and the life of the Virgin Mary. He worked with young adult ministry groups, rehearsing and then staging performances as fundraisers for many parishes.
“Theatre is one of the avenues to evangelise people as we are very visual. Through these plays I can help people to understand who they are and where they are in their relationship with God.”
Larry then became a lecturer in literature, acting and theatre at the University of De La Salle for six years.
It was while studying at this Catholic university that Larry’s interest in the priesthood became more focussed. The students participate in campus ministry, working with the poorest of the poor in remote areas, and operating the equivalent of our Vinnies Van, distributing food to those in need.
“A total offering of oneself to God and to the people”
At the age of 35 Larry came to Australia and entered the Missionaries of God’s Love seminary in Melbourne. He was just one semester away from completing his studies when he felt that life in a religious order was not what God intended for him. “I felt called to work in a parish instead.”
Later, encouraged by Fr John Watkins (at that time a seminarian) he joined the Seminary of the Holy Spirit in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Larry said seminary life can be challenging, adjusting your own ways to live and work with people from different cultures, often with different languages, and overcoming these barriers.
“We are all very different persons, coming from different levels with respect to age, education and maturity,” he said, reflecting that in many ways it was a great preparation for his future work in parish ministry. “I look at seminary life as a foundation for who I will become as the days go by.”
During a pastoral placement at St Paul the Apostle Parish in Winston Hills, Larry was involved in all aspects of parish life. “I got to know more people in the real service of the Church. When you are in a parish every single individual has their own story in life to share. The trust that they give to you is overwhelming.”
Larry is particularly proud of his involvement in the CAFE (Catholic Adult Faith Education) program. “It is a gathering of Catholics to acquaint us with what the Gospel and the Church teaches, and we share how we respond to that.”
He also participated in the training of altar servers, and was a member of the pastoral council, liturgy committee and the sacramental program.
But it is in taking Communion to the sick and housebound through home visitation that has led Larry to believe that it is in this ministry that his future may well lie.
“Being with the ill is something I feel drawn to,” he said. “There is always the chance that to be working with the ill and infirm in a diocesan setting through hospitals or nursing homes may be possible one day.”
Larry said he felt privileged to be studying for the priesthood. “Priesthood is not just service, but a total offering of oneself to God and to the people.”
He encourages anyone contemplating a vocation to be open to the possibility. “Don’t close the door. God communicates when we least expect it. More often than not we wait for something spectacular to happen to see God at work, but for me it is in the little things.
“One must be open and God will give you the opportunity to see the benefit of what happens, as He allows it to happen; not always in this instance but in the future.”
To encapsulate his faith ministry, Larry turns to Galatians 2:20 ‘… I no longer live but Christ lives in me’. “From the moment I step forward, I am not bringing myself, but Christ to the people; the message of Christ rather than my own, as His spokesperson. The hands, feet, eyes and ears and more so, the heart of Jesus to every single individual I meet through my ministry.”
To find out more about priesthood in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta visit:
To have a confidential chat about priesthood and other vocations, contact:Fr Warren Edwards
Ph:02 8838 3424 or 02 8883 4063
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