Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Priestly Ordination of Martín Ibarra ofm: You DID IT, Brother!

Felicidades al Padre Martín José Ibarra de Luna, ofm, on the occasion of his priestly ordination Saturday, August 23, 2008, at the parish of St. Elizabeth, Oakland, California! In the presence of his parents, Antonio Ibarra and Inés la Luna, along with a congregation composed of about 800 family members, friends, parishioners and Franciscan friars of the Province of St. Barbara, our brother Martín was received into the presbyterate.

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland presided over the bilingual solemn Eucharistic celebration in the presence of The Very Reverend Melvin A. Jurisich, ofm, our Provincial Minister, and approximately 70 friars. A blended choir composed of musicians from Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and the Bay Area, was directed by Fr. Vince Mesi, ofm. It was a perfect day for an ordination.

In his homily remarks, delivered principally in Spanish, Bishop Vigneron spoke in a special way about the true compatibility between the vocation of Franciscan friar and that of priestly ministry. He reminded the jubilant congregation that the service of the Friar Minor, the “little brother”, is to be a reflection of the presence and healing ministry of the poor Jesus. At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr. Mel remarked that it was now time for Martín to “get to work!” and announced—to thunderous applause-- his appointment as parochial vicar to the parish of St. Elizabeth.

Following the morning liturgy, worshippers poured into the school gym across the street for a fiesta luncheon buffet and the chance to congratulate Padre Martín and to receive his priestly blessing. Performances by various musicians—hence, the mariachis, ‘las viejitas’, and Aztec and Mayan/Guatemalan dancers—underscored the multicultural nature of the celebration and the deep joy and love of the people in this large and primarily Latino parish.

Los mariachis, las marimbas, y la gente Maya. Los kimonos, los Aztecas, y las Viejitas. Ay, Dios mío, que más?!

The day’s festivities were a source of deep and sweet satisfaction for our brother Martín, age 38. As Fr. Mel mentioned in his remarks, this ordination day had been no less than 16 years in the making. A native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, Martín emigrated to the United States in his youth, and entered the Franciscan formation program in his early twenties.

As for many of our Latino brothers, the challenges of Franciscan formation were made more intense and frequently stressful by the additional tasks of English language acquisition and acculturation. With characteristic passion, enthusiasm, and determination--- “Brothers, let’s DO IT!!”—Martín has been able to overcome these and many other hurdles along the way in the realization of his twin vocations to Franciscan and priestly life.

Prior to completing his Masters in Divinity (M.Div.) degree at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Martín received his undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Arizona State University. His sensitivity to culture is reflected in Martín’s own immersion experiences: he spent two years as a student friar in Guatemala, including an entire year among the indigenous Mayan people of the notorious Ixil Triangle in that struggling country’s imperiled highlands.

Other experiences of inculturation include stays at our missions in Mexico and studies in the Philippines. Early on, Martín has identified himself with issues of peace and justice in this country—the care of the poor, marginalized, and dispossessed—especially in his most recent work with undocumented day laborers through the Multicultural Institute in Berkeley, California (founded and directed by Friar Rigoberto Caloca-Rivas).

The sense, in Martín’s life, of struggle encountered and overcome was reflected even in the preparation for his ordination day itself. His parents had applied for—and, initially, had been refused—a visa to enter the United States in order to be present at Martín’s ordination. Through the wonderful help of some true “angels”, they were—amazingly—able to obtain permission at the last minute.

We congratulate our brother Martín and we celebrate with him the wonderful gift and work of God’s Holy Spirit in his life as a friar and in his ministry. And we support our brother (as he does us) in his challenges ahead. “You DID IT, Brother!”//
PS: Thanks to Friars Nghia Phan, Luis-Alberto Guzman and Adrian Peelo for their wonderful help with photos. ct

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