On June 1, this year’s new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop José H. Gomez at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels after years of formation at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.
They will be sent forth to evangelize in a sprawling metropolis where so many yearn for answers to the deepest questions of their lives — answers that these men have personally found in Jesus Christ and his Church.
Each day this week, we’ll be introducing you to a new soon-to-be Father. Los Angeles, meet your new priests!
For Luther Diaz, the call to the priesthood came not in the form of “sudden bursts” but a persistent, patient invitation from the Lord — much like the calling of the prophet Samuel.
“There are multiple signs the Lord gives you, but it takes time and the wisdom of one who knows to guide you, just like Eli guided Samuel,” Diaz observed.
Diaz grew up in the San Fernando Valley, one of five brothers. After high school, he worked in several positions at Pacoima Elementary School before working in the accounting department of a medical billing company.
He thought about the priesthood in his teenage years, but eventually ended up dating a girl for a time. Still, the calling didn’t go away.
“The calling was just a continual desire and a continuous thought of wanting to be close to God in any way possible, and in doing God’s work.”
Diaz went to inquire about his possible vocation to the archbishop at the time, Cardinal Roger Mahony. He was surprised to find that rather than send a secretary, the cardinal met with him personally.
“He welcomed me with warmth and with the dignity one would give a foreign minister,” said Diaz. “I approached him directly and he responded to me directly and in kindness.”
The cardinal’s encouragement started a vocation journey that has taken more than a decade. Now, Diaz is ready to be a priest in the city that he calls home, but that where he knows that secularization has caused “a great void in people” and can be very lonely.
“Where loneliness exists, God needs to be there, and God’s workers need to make sure the people have access to God’s saving love made flesh, Jesus Christ. That is why I want to be here.”
Diaz says he knows from his own youth that young people have a need to be listened to as part of their search for God, and that a priest should listen to them “as if Jesus was doing the listening.”
One of the aspects of priesthood that he most looks forward to is the sacrament of reconciliation, which he sees as “an incredible grace” and “an awesome privilege” to bring people forgiveness and healing.
Pablo Kay is the editor of Angelus.
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