Following an abundant life journey spanning nearly four decades — with spiritual peaks and valleys, various faith explorations, and wondrous world journeys — Benedictine Father Cassian DiRocco felt he was finally “back home,” doing what he was born to do, when he accepted the call to the priesthood at St. Andrew’s Church in Pasadena on the morning of July 20.“It feels like I finally [became] who God created me to be,” said Father DiRocco after his ordination. “I’m 37 and I have had a good, full life, but I feel like the fullness of my life has been about this, about being His priest. I feel a tremendous peace in my heart, just knowing that I’m doing and being who and what God has called me to be and do.”“You took your time, but that’s a compliment to you, and your ability and grace to listen to the spirit and to discern God’s will in your life,” said a smiling Bishop Sylvester Ryan, former auxiliary of Los Angeles and Bishop Emeritus of Monterey, during his homily at the ordination Mass.For Father DiRocco, that journey of discernment began at his childhood parish, Mary Star of the Sea Church in San Pedro, where he celebrated his first Mass on July 21. Growing up, the church was a cornerstone of his life, yet by his early 20s he felt compelled to explore other religious faiths and possible paths, which slowly, though eventually, brought him full circle.By his late 20s, Father DiRocco felt drawn to enter a monastery, and, “because the priest’s relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist is one of such unique intimacy and belonging,” he also felt called to the priesthood. He entered St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo in 2007, made his solemn profession of monastic vows and was ordained a deacon in 2012. As part of his formation process, for the last three years Father DiRocco lived and studied in Rome, where he had the opportunity to serve as deacon for Pope Benedict twice, and for Pope Francis. He will return to Rome as a newly-ordained priest to continue his studies for his Licentiate of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The full scope of his future ministry is yet to be determined.“When you were baptized and the priest indicated to your mother and father that they would be first teachers of the faith in your life, they obviously exceeded any expectations,” continued Bishop Ryan. “In a very special way, you are a gift to the church through your family, in much the same way that your ‘yes’ to your vocation is a gift to the people of God.”According to Father DiRocco’s mother, Linda Woosley, seeing her son become a priest was “pure joy.”“I was offered many congratulations this weekend, but I was thinking that it really has nothing to do with me; Cassian was chosen in my womb and it was up to him to say yes to that call,” she explained. “I just tried to nurture what God was asking him to do.“For a parent to see a child become and be exactly who and what they were created to be is a true gift,” she continued.Father DiRocco’s late father Anthony — who passed away last year — “would be very proud and very happy today,” according to Father DiRocco’s stepmother, Teri DiRocco.“I’m happy that he’s found what he wants to do with his life and I hope it’s truly fulfilling for him,” added DiRocco, who serves as music teacher and choir director at Holy Trinity Church in San Pedro. “It’s been a long journey for him. He explored different faiths and traveled the world. It’s been neat seeing him journey along that path and come full circle.”Father DiRocco described his ordination as “the most beautiful day of my life, hands down.”“There had been a lot of prayer, longing, hoping and anticipation leading up to that day, and to finally receive the grace of the priesthood with everybody who is dear to me in my life praying with me and for me was overwhelming,” he said. “It’s very humbling to be blessing grandparents, aunts, uncles — people who literally held you in their arms. I felt very honored.For Lucia Rose DiRocco, Father DiRocco’s paternal grandmother, the experience of witnessing her “numero uno grandson” be ordained to the priesthood is indescribable.“It’s just so hard to say how I feel; it’s a proud moment,” she said. “It’s a beautiful day.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0726/ordination/{/gallery}