On June 1, Archbishop José H. Gomez will ordain 11 new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

In the days leading up to their ordination, we’ll be introducing a new soon-to-be Father. Los Angeles, meet your new priests!

Age: 30

Hometown: Covina

Home parish: Immaculate Conception Church, Monrovia

Parish assignment: St. Clare of Assisi Church, Santa Clarita

As someone who was born on the day of the Northridge earthquake in 1994, you might expect Rudela’s path to the priesthood to be full of jolts, shakes, and aftershocks.

Instead, it has been a slow and steady rumble of faith, love, and perseverance, with a strong foundation set by his Croatian immigrant parents.

One of four boys, Rudela had a typical experience of a devout Catholic family: Mass every Sunday, Catholic school, youth ministry.

His parents had emigrated separately from Croatia, then met and married in Los Angeles. The family spoke Croatian at home and participated in cultural things like dance groups and watching Croatia in soccer.

It all felt very normal until having to face some things that were uniquely American.

“I was like one of the very few immigrant families at my grade school growing up,” Rudela said. “So they’d mention things like we’re gonna throw a ’50s party. Well, what did that look like? And they’ll say, ‘Go ask your grandparents.’ I can’t ask my grandparents, they have no idea. So you’re really learning the American culture. You’re growing up here. My parents are having to learn the culture.

Youth ministry continued in high school at Don Bosco Tech in Rosemead, and that’s when people began asking him if he had considered becoming a priest. It stuck with him into college at UC Riverside, where he was studying to become an engineer.

Marko Rudela poses with his parents, Nikola and Andja, after he completed the Rite of Admission to Candidacy at St. John’s Seminary.

One day in college, Rudela’s friend, Mike, offered him a sort of faith challenge.

“He told me, ‘You know, Marko, real men pray the rosary,” Rudela said. “He told me to pray the rosary every single day. So I started doing that, praying the rosary in the evening before I went to bed, sometimes falling asleep before finishing it. But what happened was I realized that three months into praying the rosary, I felt called to go even deeper into my relationship with Jesus.”

He began going to adoration every day for a couple of semesters and slowly he began to feel God calling him to the priesthood. So he called the Archdiocese of Los Angeles vocations office, graduated college in March, and started at St. John’s Seminary that August.

“Engineers were promised, if you get your degree, you’ll have a decent salary by the time you’re finished,” Rudela said. “So that was my hope. But you know, God called and he had a different plan for me.”

He really felt the profound call of the priesthood while at the seminary, especially after the Rite of Admission to Candidacy, where he officially professed his intention to become a priest.

“I still have the candle for candidacy up in my room,” Rudela said. “And that moment of candidacy really stood out to me. This is the moment when, in a sense, I have firmly promised to start this path of discernment toward priesthood. Now with ordination around the corner, looking back at those five years since candidacy, you can really see the way that God was working in my life.”

It’s no surprise that someone so steady in his faith would find inspiration in St. Josemaría Escrivá, who was called the “saint of the ordinary” and found Jesus in the midst of our regular, daily lives.

“That’s really helped me realize that every task I do in the parish, every prayer that I offer, any work I do throughout my life, it’s ordinary, but consecrated,” Rudela said. “To God it’s something.”

With that inspiration in his heart as his big day nears, Rudela is not looking forward to anything major, but instead the everyday things in the life of a priest that many may take for granted.

He cites accompanying priests on sick calls and seeing the joy that the sacrament of confession brings to other people as experiences that have spoken to him while serving in the parish. 

“I really hope to be able to be there for the people of God, especially if they need some spiritual guidance, and offering Masses for them,” said Rudela.