Laughter and good cheer was in abundance as members from Serra Clubs all over the archdiocese gathered together to honor six recently-ordained priests at the 61st Ordinati Day luncheon Sept. 7.More than 225 Serrans, religious and clergy, including Auxiliary Bishops Edward Clark, Alexander Salazar, Gerald Wilkerson and Joseph Sartoris (retired), braved the San Fernando Valley’s hot weather to assemble at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City for the annual event.“For 61 years, our Serrans, through the intercession of Blessed Junipero Serra, have been offering our prayers, affirmation and support for our beloved priests and sisters,” said master of ceremonies Robert Martinez, Serra Club of Los Angeles president, in his welcoming remarks. “All of us here today who have carried a friendship with a priest or a sister have been abundantly blessed.”“This is a day of great hope and promise for the future, and I would like to say to the newly ordained, use well the next few years,” said Bishop Clark. “Enjoy being a priest, but learn to be a pastor,” he added, evoking laughter among the ordinati well aware that the priest shortage may mean being named a pastor sooner rather than later.Bishop Clark then thanked the vocation office staff, pastors and parents of the newly ordained, the seminary staff at St. John’s and Juan Diego House and the men and women of Serra.“You are commissioned by your organization to support vocations and you do that in a very real and tangible way in your prayer life for vocations to priesthood and religious life and through the support that you give to our men as they go through their seminary years,” said Bishop Clark to the Serrans.He noted that Cardinal Roger Mahony expanded the role of Serra to not only support vocations but to invite prospective candidates to consider a religious vocation.“I want to challenge you today to go a step farther,” added Bishop Clark. “Not only should you support vocations, identify them and invite them, you need to generate vocations as well, among your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, [and] members of your family.”He told of a recent visit to Gallup, New Mexico, where Bishop Jim Wall, soon after his episcopal installation in 2009, organized a chapter of Serra and invited parents with young children to join. “Bring into Serra men and women with grade school age children because there will be the future vocations for the church,” said the bishop who received his formation at St. John’s Seminary.Father Augustine Chang, the first ordinand to address the luncheon guests after being introduced by Msgr. Craig Cox, rector of St. John’s, said he really feels connected with people in his ministry as a priest.“I really do feel this is my vocation,” said Father Chang, serving as an associate at Holy Trinity Church in San Pedro. “I have absolutely no regrets. I feel I am in the right place. I thank the Serrans and all those who have supported vocations to the priesthood.”“Please pray for us so we will be humble, sincere and simple people who really want to serve, love and journey with our people,” said Father Ernesto Zamora, assigned to Our Lady of Grace Church in Encino.Father Francisco Ho Seok Jin, serving his first assignment at St. Christopher in West Covina, also asked for prayers for the priest shortage. “We really need more vocations for our archdiocese,” he said.Father John Lee, new associate at St. James Church in Redondo Beach, said he was enjoying his ministry at the parish. “I’m happy to report that whatever the culture and the time of history we live in, the church is serving the people of God and great things are happening in the church,” said Father Lee.Father José Jes√∫s Martinez, in his first assignment at Epiphany Church in El Monte, joked that his seminary training missed “one little thing: drills” in getting up in the wee hours of night or early morning for sick calls at the hospital and convalescent homes. He added that he wished there were more Serrans on the east side of L.A. “because you do touch people, especially young men,” said Father Martinez.Father Michael Perucho, a new associate at Holy Family in Glendale, said his priesthood so far has been “a wonderful and blessed time. In two months at the parish, I’ve learned so much about myself and what it means to be a servant to others.”Leading the Blessing of Ordinands, Msgr. Jim Forsen, archdiocesan director of vocations, invited Serrans and guests to stand and extend their hands over the seated ordinati. “May we have the grace to walk with them so that they will know they are never alone,” prayed Msgr. Forsen.Serran Keith Albi, a St. Joan of Arc (West L.A.) parishioner, said he became a Serra member in 1982 because he felt the need to assist and encourage priests. “All they’ve done for us has been tremendous, and we can’t thank them enough,” said Albi.Carmelite Sister Mary John, attending the Ordinati Day luncheon as an invited guest for the first time, said she is impressed by the devotion of the Serrans. “They see the need within the church and the special role that priests and religious have and their understanding of that is just beautiful — that they realize it’s the Body of Christ: the laity and the religious and the priests,” said Sister Mary John.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0916/ordinati/{/gallery}