St. Augustine Catholic
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Called to Serve

The average age of men ordained to the Catholic priesthood in the United States in 2007 is 35, and one out of three of them is foreign born. In addition, most entered the seminary with a college diploma, some with advanced degrees in areas such as law, medicine and education.

The information was compiled by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) for The Class of 2007: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood. CARA conducts the survey annually for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation.

Researchers gathered information from 282 seminarians, estimated to be approximately 60 percent of the 475 potential ordinands (men to be ordained). These 282 seminarians include 221 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 60 to the religious priesthood. The complete survey can be found at

In the Diocese of Saint Augustine, we are blessed to have three men who will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine. The Catholic community is encouraged to attend the ordination Mass. Turn to page 9 for a brief backgrounder that explains the signs, symbols and traditions of an ordination ceremony in the Catholic Church. It is one of the most beautiful ceremonies you will ever experience.

The average age of men ordained to the Diocese of Saint Augustine this year is 38. Deacons David Ruchinski, Robert Trujillo and Steven Zehler are all American-born, they have attended college and each had professional careers before entering the seminary. Turn to page 18 to read their profiles.

Our newest priests will join a long list of distinguished priests who have served the Catholic faithful in North Florida since the late 1500s. Dr. Michael Gannon, in his column, “From the Archives,” page 7, writes about the first parish Mass celebrated in the whole of North America north of Mexico. Father Francisco Lpez de Mendoza of Spain celebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving on Sept. 8, 1565.

Spanish priests were the first to bring the Catholic faith to the indigenous people of Florida. As the Catholic population grew, Father Pedro Camps of Minorca, and Fathers Thomas Hassett and Michael O’Reilly of Ireland ministered to their needs. Bishop Augustin Verot, a native of Le Puy, France, became the first bishop of Saint Augustine. The first religious order priests to serve in Florida were the Jesuits and Franciscans, and over the years, many foreign-born priests and women religious followed. Today we have priests serving in the diocese from as far away as Viet Nam, Poland and India.

And while we have reason to rejoice and be thankful for the diversity of our clergy, we need to be mindful that there is a shortage of diocesan priests and we need to nurture men and women among us to answer God’s call to serve.

If you know someone that you think would make a good priest or nun - tell them. Or have them call our Vocations Office at (904) 262-3200, ext. 101 or Dominican Sister Maureen Kelley, the bishop’s Delegate for Religious at (904) 264-0577 or visit vocations at

- Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, editor


The amount raised for the Red Rose Ball hosted by the St. Vincent’s Foundation, Feb. 9, was incorrectly published in our April issue. More than $200,000 was raised this year. We apologize for the error.