BY VICTOR CALDERON
The New Vision
The journey for a Catholic seminarian to become a priest is the work of not only himself but of his family and the Church community, the newest priest in the Diocese of Tucson said earlier this month.
“A seminarian does not come in alone,” said Father Alán Valencia, who became the newest priest following his ordination by Bishop Gerald Kicanas at St. Augustine Cathedral on June 6. “He comes with a larger community that prays for him and helps him along the way.”
Hundreds of parishioners came from around the Diocese, including Valencia’s family from Nogales, Ariz. and parishioners from Sacred Heart Parish, which he attended growing up. Father August Belauskas, M.A., S.T.L., from the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary near Chicago represented the Mundelein Seminary community where Valencia studied and there were visiting priests from Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Fresno, Calif. as well.
“Today is a banner day for Nogales,” Bishop Kicanas said, mentioning Valencia’s ordination and horse trainer Bob Baffert, who is from Nogales and whose horse American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in horse racing later that day. “We believe (Father Valencia) will be a prophet for the people.”
Part of the Rite of Ordination included Valencia prostrating himself before the altar as the choir led the singing of The Litany of Saints. Bishop Kicanas then laid his hands on Valencia’s head, which was followed by all priests in attendance doing the same. Father Peter Neeley, S.J., of the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales and Father Patrick Crino of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson later assisted Valencia in donning the vestments of his priestly duties.
Father Valencia’s first assignment will be at St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande.
Prior to entering the seminary, Valencia attended the University of Arizona, majoring in psychology and Spanish literature and minoring in criminal justice. He has said his goal was to obtain a government job, possibly in federal law enforcement, when he got the calling to the priesthood.
As a seminarian in July 2013, Valencia led a youth group from Sts. Peter and Paul to the World Youth Day in Brazil.
Following his Ordination Mass, several people asked Father Valencia for a blessing in the cathedral and he obliged before he was taken over to the parish hall where a line had formed with others wanting a blessing as well.
“Thank you for walking with me in this seminary journey, everyone is part of the fruit that the grace of God manifests in us,” Father Valencia said in words of gratitude in the Mass program. “I ask you to please keep me in your prayers as I begin this incredible ministry.” Bishop Kicanas will ordain Edson Elizarraras, another seminarian, as a transitional deacon in Yuma on June 13. This is one of the final stages of preparation before Elizarraras’ ordination to priesthood. In December, the Bishop will ordain Deacon George Holley, who now is a transitional deacon, to the priesthood.