On Sept. 25, 1988 — a year after his historic visit to California — Pope John Paul II beatified Fray Junípero Serra, the founder of the California Missions. Two weeks earlier — on Saturday, Sept. 10 — members of St. John’s Seminary’s class of 1988 were ordained for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Archbishop Roger Mahony in St. Vibiana’s Cathedral. Other classmates were ordained in their respective Dioceses of San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Stockton, Monterey, Phoenix and Tucson.
This year, there are 20 priests celebrating silver jubilees in the archdiocese, collectively representing an interesting combination of ages and countries. Eight were born and raised in California; others come from Washington, D.C., Connecticut and Texas, and from Mexico, India, Philippines and Korea. Their current ages range from 52 to 83 with varied talents and assignments in their 25 years of ministry. This year’s jubilarians also include members of religious orders and extern priests who serve in the archdiocese and were ordained at different times. Following are brief profiles of each:
Members of St. John’s 1988 Class
Father Alex Chung is a native of Seoul, Korea, born in 1958. He was 18 when he came to the U.S. and in 1983 received his B.S. degree in mathematical computer science from UCLA. He served at Our Lady of Lourdes, Northridge; Maria Regina, Gardena; St. Hilary, Pico Rivera; and was pastor at St. Gregory Nazianzen, L.A. (2007-12). He is currently the ethnic chaplain for the St. Gabriel Korean Center in Rowland Heights.
Father Thomas Cook was born in Los Angeles in 1956. He graduated from St. John’s in 1986 but requested a pastoral internship for two years before he was ordained Aug. 13, 1988 at Corpus Christi Church, Pacific Palisades. He served as associate at St. Louis of France, La Puente; St. Finbar, Burbank; and St. Mary of the Assumption, Santa Maria. In 2008 Father Cook was named pastor at La Purisima Concepcion, Lompoc.
Father Richard Hoynes was born in the Philippines to an Irish-German father and a Japanese mother in 1960. He is fluent in Japanese and has administered the St. Francis Xavier Japanese Mission in L.A. (Little Tokyo) since 2008. He has served at SS. Peter and Paul, Wilmington; Holy Trinity, San Pedro; American Martyrs, Manhattan Beach; and was pastor at St. Albert the Great, Rancho Dominguez for six years.
Father Roberto Pirrone, born in Los Angeles in 1956, is currently a pastoral associate at St. John Chrysostom in Inglewood. Previous assignments included SS. Peter and Paul, Wilmington; St. Rose of Lima, Maywood; and St. Finbar, Burbank. He served on the Personnel Board for the archdiocese and speaks both Spanish and Portuguese fluently. His scale model of the famous Titanic ship that took him more than five years to construct is recognized widely as a remarkable model and recommended by the Titanic Historical Society.
Father Michael Rocha, born in San Fernando in 1953, attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in Northridge and Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary. He earned a B.A. degree in music at Mount St. Mary’s College and for several years joined the Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. Returning to St. John’s, he was ordained with the 1988 class. He has served at St. Martha, Valinda; St. Monica, Santa Monica; St. John Fisher, Rancho Palos Verdes; and has been pastor at St. Mark, Venice, since 2002.
Msgr. Steven Zak, born in Inglewood in 1958, graduated from Crespi High School, Encino, and earned his B.A. degree at Cal State Northridge, majoring in music and French. He served at St. Gregory the Great, Whittier, before being accepted for studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome where he received a doctorate in canon law. In 1998 Pope John Paul II named him a monsignor. Msgr. Zak has served as Promoter of Justice for archdiocesan canonical services and is now pastor at Incarnation, Glendale.
Two other members of St. John’s class of 1988 are currently serving in other dioceses:
Father Lawrence Beck, born in Long Beach in 1959, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1981. After ordination he served at St. Dorothy, Glendora; St. John Vianney, Hacienda Heights; and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello. He was then assigned at St. Patrick in Grass Valley for the Sacramento Diocese. He now assists at two parishes in northern California: St. Patrick Church, Jackson, and Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ione.
Father Stephen Woodland is on active leave in the Archdiocese of Seattle at St. Philomena Church in Des Moines, Wash. Born in Santa Monica in 1960, his assignments have included Our Lady of Lourdes, Tujunga, and St. Charles Borromeo, North Hollywood. Father Woodland served on the Council of Priests and was pastor of St. John Chrysostom, Inglewood, for five years.
Religious Orders and Extern Priests ordained in 1988
—Augustinian Recollect Father Felizardo Daganta was born in the Philippines in 1961 and ordained Jan. 1, 1988 from the Recoletos Seminary. He has been an associate at St. Benedict, Montebello, since 2006.
—Scalabrinian Father Guillermo Garcia Vargas was born in Mexico in 1930 and ordained June 4, 1988 He is retired, living at the St. Charles Scalabrini House in Sun Valley, and assists at nearby parishes.
—Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Father Benny George, a native of India born in 1959, was ordained May 6, 1988. He attended Dharmanram College. He is associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier, Burbank.
—Jesuit Father Gregory Goethals, born in Glendale in 1955, was ordained June 4, 1988. He is the president of Loyola High School, Los Angeles and was the superior of the Jesuit community there.
—Franciscan Father Armando Lopez was born in Mexico in 1953 and ordained Aug. 27, 1988. He served at St. Joseph, Pomona, and is the associate pastor of Our Lady of Victory, Los Angeles.
—Norbertine Father Raymond Perez was born in Texas in 1960 and ordained Sept. 10, 1988. He served at Mary Star of the Sea, San Pedro; St. Joseph, Hawthorne; St. Stephen, L.A.; and is pastor at SS. Peter and Paul in Wilmington.
—Divine Word Missionary Father Frank Tinajero was born in Los Angeles in 1959 and ordained Dec. 12, 1988. As pastoral associate he served at Our Lady of Loretto, L.A.; La Purisima Concepcion, Lompoc and St. Alphonsus, L.A. He is a Federal prison chaplain and was director of Casa Guadalupe, L.A.
—Father Arturo Valadez was born in Mexico, 1961 and ordained August 15, 1988. He has served at St. Thomas the Apostle, L.A.; St. Francis Xavier, Pico Rivera; Holy Family, Wilmington and is currently an associate at St. Didacus, Sylmar.
—Father John Vianney was born in India in 1961 and ordained May 4, 1988. He is currently the administrator Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello, and served as associate at St. Louise de Marillac, Covina; St. Anthony of Padua, Gardena; and St. Mary of the Assumption, Santa Maria.
—Paulist Father Mark Villano was born in Connecticut in 1960 and ordained May 14, 1988. He was the communications director in L.A., served at the UCLA Newman Center and is the chaplain at Marymount College, Rancho Palos Verdes.
—Trinitarian Father Francis Whatley was born in Washington, D.C., in 1949 and ordained April 16, 1988. He serves as chaplain at Nazareth House, L.A.