SALT LAKE CITY — While the path to the priesthood is long for most candidates, for Kenneth Parsad, a student at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore., it has been not only long but also full of detours.
Parsad, who is from Abra, Philippines, is the older of two children; he has a younger sister. Since kindergarten he attended Catholic schools and has been active in his faith. His mother has always desired that he become a priest, but it took some time before he considered that path for himself.
Although Parsad attended St. Joseph minor seminary as a youth, had early leanings toward the priesthood and was encouraged by his mother to pursue that vocation, it was only after earning a bachelor’s degree in classical philosophy and a master’s degree in sacred theology, followed by more than three years as a teacher, that he determined that he did indeed have a call to presbyteral ministry.
After high school Parsad attended the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Following his seven years there, he decided to take some time to help his family, in particular his sister, who was then a student at the university.
“I wanted to guide her in her college life,” he said. “Also, I was discerning if priesthood was what I really wanted and not treat it like it was forced upon me.”
“The desire never went away,” he said. “There were times when it subsided a bit, but it was never gone in my heart. I kept thinking about it. There was a disconnect between where I was and who I was.”
An experience he had during one Christmas vacation confirmed for Parsad that he was meant to be a priest. Thumbing through some old elementary schoolwork one day, he came across a third-grade assignment where he had been asked to draw how he pictured himself in the future. The drawing was one of Parsad in a Roman collar preaching to people.
“It reminded me that even before entering the high school seminary there was already a desire inside of me that I had forgotten,” he said.
Once Parsad decided on his path, he reached out to Fr. Rodelio Ignacio, a fellow Santo Tomas Central Seminary graduate who had previously encouraged him to become a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Fr. Ignacio is now administrator of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and School in Sandy. The following year, Parsad also met Bishop Oscar A. Solis, another Santo Tomas graduate, at an alumni celebration at the seminary. His application was moving through the diocesan approval process when the pandemic hit and educational programs across the world, both religious and secular, ground almost to a halt. It would be more than three years from his communication with Fr. Ignacio before he came to the United States.
While he waited for approval to become a seminarian for the Salt Lake diocese, he worked in the Diocese of Cubao, helping with the formation of catechists. He also taught classes online for two years before arriving in the U.S. on Aug. 15, 2022. He enrolled at Mt. Angel, where he was placed in the program’s third year, given his previous education.
Although he now appears to be on a clear path to becoming a priest for the diocese, the timing for the rest of his journey is unclear. For example, it is common practice for seminarians at Mt. Angel to be ordained to the diaconate at the end of their third year, but because this is Parsad’s first year at the institution, that step will be delayed. Meanwhile, he is working with the diocesan vocations team to determine the rest of his priesthood path, which includes more than two years of study before he will be eligible for ordination.
Nevertheless, he is excited to serve in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, which he visited in December.
“I feel eagerness and excitement because it is a mission diocese where Catholics are a minority,” he said. “It’s an excitement to serve the people in my own simple way, in my own uniqueness. If I can help the diocese, I am going to help in my simple way to build in whatever way I can.”
Parsad encourages all Catholics to find out what life the Lord is calling them to.
“Of all the things that I could be, I feel like the priesthood is the best way that I can be of service,” he said. “I feel like everything makes more sense in the trajectory of my life, where I was and where I’m going; it makes more sense to me to be a priest of the Lord. I just have the feeling the Lord is calling me in this special way, and I’m trying to respond to that pull as the Lord is pulling me toward this way of life.”
“Whatever vocation you’re inclined to answer to, in particular the priesthood, there is a real, deep satisfaction of just sharing intimately in the life of Christ,” he added.
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