WEST HAVEN — When he was a boy, Fr. Rodelio S. Ignacio could never imagine being a priest. He just wasn’t religious, and chafed at his parents’ insistence that the whole family attend Mass every week and at having to don Sunday best to do so, he said. Fortunately, children mature and hearts change. Today, Fr. Ignacio couldn’t imagine any life for himself other than one consecrated to God.
The youngest of three children, Fr. Ignacio was born on Nov. 13, 1971 to Severino and Linda Ignacio in Valenzuela City, a suburb of Manila in the Philippines. He attended a public elementary school before going on to attend a Catholic high school, Colegio De San Pascual Baylon.
He then enrolled in the Perpetual Help College of Rizal, where he studied to be a physical therapist. While there, he started his own business, supplying garments for factory workers. After three years study, he decided physical therapy was not for him and left school. He spent the next five years building his business.
While he continued to attend Mass every Sunday with his family, he was never particularly devout, Fr. Ignacio said. That changed when he was asked to join a Singer for Christ charismatic group. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was part of that commitment, and before long, he was spending time doing so every day.
“I talked to the Lord in Adoration and became close to the Lord,” he said.
He decided to leave personal ambition behind to pursue a life in the priesthood, even though his parents, desiring grandchildren, did not want him to do so. Once he made his decision, his family was very supportive, Fr. Ignacio said.
The first obstacle he had to overcome was an age limit: at 27, he didn’t qualify to enter Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Bulacan. The seminary was routinely turning away those older than 25, but the director believed in his vocation and allowed him to enroll in 1999, Fr. Ignacio said.
He graduated from the seminary with a degree in philosophy in 2004.
He went on to receive a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 2007 from the University of St. Thomas Central Seminary in Manila and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Iba in 2008. While he pursued his Licentiate of Sacred Theology (comparable to a master’s degree), he served in San Andreas Parish in Zambales, an eight-hour journey from his home, every weekend.
Then he took a break from his studies and served for a year as parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral in Manila, and then as parochial vicar and school chaplain at St. Michael Parish for four years. He returned to university to complete his master’s program, filling in at Holy Family Parish in the diocese wherever he was needed.
Fr. Ignacio was serving as administrator in San Andreas Parish when he came to the United States last year to visit a classmate who was serving in a parish in Wyoming. He was no stranger to the U.S., having made several trips here to visit relatives over the years and visiting 28 states in the process.
During that time, he met Bishop Oscar A. Solis and decided to apply to serve in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. With the blessing of Bishop Bartolome G. Santos of his home diocese, his application was accepted.
Fr. Ignacio has been back in the U.S. since November. While he waited for his visa to be approved, he stayed with Father Max Omana at Hill Air Force Base and worked on his English. In March, he was assigned temporarily as parochial vicar at Saint Mary Parish, West Haven.
He will begin a permanent assignment as parochial vicar at Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish, Park City and Saint Lawrence Mission, Heber in August. He is excited to serve alongside Father Christopher Gray, pastor, he said.
“I have been so blessed by the Eucharist,” he said. “I believe in the Holy Eucharist and want to share its beauty and grace with others.”
The Holy Eucharist can change lives, he said. “It happened in mine.”