August 21 was an auspicous day for the parish of San Lorenzo Ruiz. On this beautiful Sunday morning, the parish welcomed one of its sons, the Rev.Fr. Rolando Rosendo "Dong" De Gracia Yadao. He was the main celebrant on the 5th Novena Mass in honor of our patron saint. The mass was very special with Fr. Dong's immediate family and friends present together with the larger SLRP community.
Fr. Dong began serving the parish way back in the 90s when he joined the parish choir. After much soul-searching over the past two decades, he finally decided to dedicate his life to serving others by becoming a priest. He was ordained to the Priesthood last May 28, 2011 at the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey where he is presently assigned.
Quoting from his current parish priest Fr. Jack:
"A single question played a deciding role in Father Rolando Rosendo DeGracia Yadao’s decision to devote his life to God’s call. “What is it that will make me happy and fulfilled in life?” With the help of a spiritual director, he got the answer.
Growing up in the Philippines, Fr. Dong Yadao, 35, has a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry. He was a deacon at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Jersey City. “The community life I learned to love” is the most memorable aspect of his seminary years. “God showed me how unique each individual is and how each one is gifted with skills and talents essential in building God’s kingdom on earth.”
Fr. DeGracia Yadao did his field education and summer assignments at Saint Theresa Parish in Kenilworth and Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Jersey City.
On the eve of becoming a priest, his hope is that “my brother priests will always be available to me in my struggles. It is my desire to journey with them and be their companion in every way. Only a brother priest can understand another priest. As a newly ordained, I pray that I can also be an inspiration to others just as holy priests have been an inspiration to me. My only prayer is that God’s mercy and love will continue to purify me and make me a worthy minister of His Word and sacraments as I offer my life for His glory.”
During his homily, he made a poignant distinction between two kinds of knowing - knowing a person based on physical attributes and knowing a person through a personal relationship. He gave a more appropriate distinction by using the Tagalog words alam and kilala. He exhorted everyone present to know (kilala) Christ more because that is the only way one can spread His love, by knowing Him intimately and spreading His gospel of love.
After the mass, everyone lined up to kiss the hands of Fr. Dong, a traditional act of veneration for newly ordained priests.
Lunch and some fellowship with Fr. Dong, his family and SLRP wellwishers followed immediately after the mass.