Three Diocese of Charlotte priests mark anniversaries in December
CHARLOTTE — The universality of the Catholic Church is reflected beautifully in the priesthood of three diocesan priests celebrating their ordination anniversaries this month. Fathers Christopher Roux, Adrian Porras and Jose Antonio Juya are from very different parts of the world but share the same vocation: to serve Holy Mother Church as Catholic priests.
Collectively they have 50 years of service to the Church between them. Two were ordained together. One has lived around the world during his 30 years of priesthood. All three will mark their anniversaries this month with Masses and celebrations with their parish families.
The two priests who received the sacred gift of Holy Orders on the same day are Fathers Christopher Roux and Adrian Porras. They are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries, having been ordained on Dec. 15, 2001, by then Bishop William G. Curlin at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.
As divine providence would have it, Father Roux is now rector of the cathedral – an honor he never imagined he would receive. He assumed the duties of rector in 2008 and also serves as master of ceremonies for Bishop Peter Jugis for all diocesan liturgies celebrated at the cathedral, as well as the Eucharistic Congress.
Father Roux admits that he is very shy, which may come as a surprise to those who have seen him in action directing altar servers, clergy and the faithful at diocesan events.
"I wanted to be a hermit... It's not anything I would have expected," he says. "I would never have expected being with the bishop almost exclusively and never would I have thought I would have this parish. I was expecting a small mountain parish. It was a surprise and a very humbling experience. The whole thing has been grace."
He says he is thankful for his vocation.
"I love the priesthood and I have had two great, exciting things that are continuing. One is the Eucharistic Congress – it has been a joy to see that event grow, and the joy I have seen on people's faces as they participate. And the other is the implementation of the revised translation (of the English Missal). Seeing the prayers almost again for the first time has been beautiful."
Father Roux has also shared his love of the Blessed Mother during his lifetime by leading annual pilgrimages to Fatima with Father John Putnam, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury.
"Back when I was a teenager I was introduced to Our Lady of Fatima. I was immediately drawn to her and to the message of peace and the rosary. As time went on, I think that understanding the message of Fatima is much more about our response to the needs of those who are in a sinful situation and don't even know it, and our obligation to pray for them and help them by our prayers, sacrifices and penances is tremendous."
He encourages men who may be discerning a call to the priesthood not to be afraid to ask themselves or the Lord if this is where He's calling them.
"So many men in this day and age are afraid that if they become a priest they will lose so much. The reality is that, in any vocation, Our Lord is calling us to sacrifice something else. Following Christ is to sacrifice something. We're all called to offer something to love Christ with the fullness of who we are."
Father Porras, pastor of St. Barnabas Church in Arden, gave his life to Our Lord as a priest alongside Father Roux 10 years ago. He also shares a love for the priesthood.
"I have learned just how much the priesthood is needed. People yearn for the sacraments. I have come across so many people in different parishes who bring so many gifts to the Church – they have been families, married couples and single people who are devout and dedicated in serving God and neighbor."
He greatly enjoys celebrating Mass and serving the people, and he also encourages men to consider the priesthood.
"You must love the liturgy, for you will be saying so many Masses, and you must be available to the people. That, I believe, is the distinct spirituality of the diocesan priesthood: offering Mass and being present to your parishioners."
A priest for more than 30 years now, Father Juya is a Colombia native who was ordained at San Rafael Rondon Church in the Diocese of Garagoa on Dec. 12, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. His brother Father Philemon Juya, who passed away in June, was also ordained that day.
Father Juya has been in the U.S. for 16 years, the past 12 years in the Charlotte diocese. He is the Hispanic ministry coordinator for the Gastonia vicariate. While he is stationed at St. Michael Church in Gastonia, he travels to parishes around the vicariate to celebrate Mass and the sacraments for the area's growing Hispanic population.
"I am happy. I studied and lived in Colombia, Canada and Rome, and now I am happy here," he says. "I love the ministry. I love the people and I like to spend my days in their service."
He had many good teachers and spiritual directors who influenced his vocation. He has also positively impacted the lives of several men discerning a call to the priesthood.
"During my 30 years I have invited several men to become priests. Seven are now ordained. Some are in the U.S., Yemen and in Colombia. I have two cousins who are priests and one nephew is in seminary now.
"We need strong missionaries. We need people around the world to help the poor, and families," he says.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer