Father Joseph Frez appointed as new pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Midvale

Friday, May. 24, 2013
Father Joseph Frez appointed as new pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Midvale + Enlarge
Father Joseph Frez

(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles about the diocese’s 2013 priest assignments.)

MIDVALE — Father Joseph Frez has been assigned as pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Midvale, effective Aug. 7.

Fr. Frez is currently the administrator of Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Kearns, where he was assigned as parochial vicar following his ordination to the priesthood on May 29, 2010 by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

Fr. Frez was born and raised in the Philippines. He graduated as an electronics and communications engineer from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, and worked in Singapore for one year before coming to the United States.

"I was recruited by a computer agency in San Francisco 17 years ago and worked there during President Bill Clinton’s era. While I was there, there was a government freeze and I couldn’t get my visa," said Fr. Frez. "I had to wait before I could come to Utah to work for American Stores and Discover Card."

But Fr. Frez felt something was missing from his life and joined the Franciscan Order of the Capetians in Denver, Colo., for more than two years. He was attracted to their charism of serving the poor and their free spirit and spontaneity, he said.

"It was a mixture of being contemplative and active in the community, but not what I was looking for," Fr. Frez said. "The Capetians were very good to me and they knew I had left my job and gave me some money to start over. I still remain in contact with them because deep inside I still feel a Franciscan side of me."

Fr. Frez then contacted Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, who was the vocations director for the Diocese of Salt Lake City at the time, and was invited to come to Utah. He subsequently entered Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.

"I had always thought about being a priest, but my parents discouraged me because I was so young," said Fr. Frez. "After becoming a deacon I began to feel fulfilled and to feel the call to priesthood. I took the vows of chastity and obedience because being a deacon or priest is a calling; a gift from God. It is like a social worker in a sense ,helping people be rooted in Christ and rooted in the Church."

The first two years of Fr. Frez’s priesthood served as a learning experience and a time to get to know the people, he said. "I was fortunate to have Father Robert Moriarty as my pastor because he allowed me to implement the Feast of El Divino Salvador del Mundo for the Salvadoran parishioners and Our Lady of Chapi for the Peruvian parishioners," said Fr. Frez. "We also initiated the Santacruzan and the Simbang Gabi for the Filipino community and the intercultural Marian celebration and the Corpus Christi procession. When I was made the administrator, I learned even more through the school and the parish itself.

"I have visited St. Therese and from what I have heard, it is almost like St. Francis Xavier; it’s a very good community," said Fr. Frez. "Father Martin Diaz, its pastor, has done a good job with the parish. The people have been very welcoming, supportive and respectful. As the bishop said in the priests’ convocation, ‘We are formed in the parish by serving the people’s needs.’"

Fr. Frez will continue as the spiritual advisor of the Cursillo movement in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. "I am also looking forward to continuing to help the Carmelite sisters by celebrating Mass," he said. "My whole family in the Philippines was close to the Carmelites. My brother had asthma and we would ask for their prayers."

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