The Diocese of Orlando celebrates the milestone anniversaries of the following men in the priesthood.
DIAMOND JUBILARIANS – 60 Years
Monsignor Vidal Arboleda
“Being a priest was always my dream,” said Monsignor Vidal Arboleda. He was ordained to the priesthood on November 27, 1955 in Colombia and came to the Diocese of Orlando from the Diocese of Jerico.
“My priesthood has been full of joy,” he said. “I enjoy every encounter I have with the people of God. People come to me to talk and I love sharing the love of God with them. Having the opportunity to share a word of hope is always rewarding and I have enjoyed every moment.”
“When visiting the ill, sometimes I also have the pleasure to share with the caregivers and they are always grateful to receive the priest at their house. It gives them hope,” he added.
Monsignor Vidal was incardinated a Diocese of Orlando priest in 1992 by Bishop Norbert Dorsey, C.P. and he served at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Orlando from 1982 until his retirement in 1995.
Now retired and living in his native country Colombia, Monsignor Arboleda reflected on the greatest moments of his ministry.
“The greatest gratification of my priesthood is the celebration of the Eucharist. At the moment of the elevation of the Body and Blood of Christ, I experience a lot of joy,” said Monsignor Arboleda.
“Taking care of the people at the Sacrament of Reconciliation and seeing the gladness in the people also gives me satisfaction. I have lived my priesthood with love and devotion. I have had the opportunity to teach the people of God, how magnificent the Eucharist is.”
As a young man, Father Valentine Sheedy was known for his love of sports. In addition to being a sprinter and hurler, the young Sheedy was a running back for a local rugby team.
All the while he excelled at sports, Sheedy felt a calling for more in his life. As he neared the end of his boarding school years in Tipperary County, Ireland, one of his teachers encouraged him to consider the priesthood. In 1946, Sheedy entered the Holy Ghost Seminary in Kimmage, Dublin, where he studied for the next nine years, ultimately being ordained into the priesthood on July 3, 1955.
Shortly after being ordained, Father Sheedy was among six priests sent to Biafra, Nigeria to teach. He remained in the country for 12 years, until 1967 when a civil war forced him and other missionaries to leave. Reflecting on his time spent in Africa, Father Sheedy stated that it was a time of much growth.
In the meantime, a new diocese was beginning to take root in Orlando, and Father Sheedy was sent on yet another missionary assignment to help grow the Catholic Church in Florida.
For 48 years, Father Sheedy has ministered to the faithful of the Diocese of Orlando. He has served at four parishes – as assistant pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Palm Bay and Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Orlando, and as pastor at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne, and Resurrection Catholic Church in Lakeland. He was responsible for building and expanding schools and parishes at Ascension and Resurrection.
Throughout his ministry, Father Sheedy was also known for his support of education, influenced in part by his experience in Africa.
“I learned how education can change the face of a nation,” he said. “Without education, you can only have a superficial view of what Christianity is all about.”
Father Sheedy retired in July 1998. Looking back on his 60 years of priesthood, Father Sheedy said that he cherishes his years spent in the Diocese of Orlando.
“As you go through life, there are ups and downs, and it is hard to say which is the greatest up and which is the greatest down,” he said. “Still, in coming here, I found the people so tremendously receptive, very friendly, and very supportive. The people are one of the greatest things about my work here in Orlando.”
GOLDEN JUBILARIANS – 50 Years
Reverend Louis Manzo, C.S.C.
(Congregation of the Holy Cross)
Ordained on December 18, 1965, Father Manzo’s ministry has taken him from the blue-grass hills of his Kentucky birthplace to the fields of academia to time ministering to members of the armed forces. Since 2007, he has been a Florida resident, first serving at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Viera and now living at the Holy Cross Community House in Cocoa Beach. “I’ve been all over the world,” said the well-spoken, educated priest. “And now I am in a nice community with a wonderful group of people.”
His journey with the Holy Cross community took him to Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass. He later prepared for his priestly ordination at a seminary in Montreal. Following ordination, Father Manzo taught for a year in Connecticut, then lived in Rome for seven years where he earned a doctorate in moral theology and taught at an international, all-boys school run by the Holy Cross Brothers.
After time in Italy, Father Manzo returned to Stonehill where he stayed for 25 years, first teaching and later serving as academic vice president. He then spent five and a half years as Catholic chaplain on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., where he strived for a “ministry of presence,” going to places where students gather, such as the dining hall and student center.
But it was his role as an Air Force Reserve chaplain that allowed Father Manzo to globetrot. While teaching and working at college, Father Manzo had long breaks at summer and Christmas, when he would go on active duty at different bases. Catholic chaplains were always welcome, whether he would serve on a base in the states, in Europe and Greenland, or the Middle East. It offered him a nice balance of ministry of both academia and the military.
“Serving as an Air Force chaplain was the best thing I ever did,” Father Manzo said. “The Air Force is a wonderful community with talented people who are dedicated to a mission and are committed to constant education.”
Father Manzo took a sabbatical after leaving his chaplaincy at Wesleyan to prepare for retirement. At 75, he now enjoys photography while still fostering his intellect with one of his first spiritual loves – theology.
“I’ve had an interesting ride and it’s been really wonderful,” said Father Kenneth Metz. “I look back at these years with great joy in my heart.”
Ordained on May 29, 1965, Father Metz recalled the excitement he and his other recently ordained classmates felt. The Second Vatican Council had recently ended, and the young priests were on a type of spiritual high.
“I remember talking with the other classmates and we all thought we were going to spend our lives in parishes,” Father Metz recalled. “Now that I look back, none of us spent our whole life in parish ministry,” he added with a laugh.
After his ordination, Father Metz spent three years at a parish, before being moved to service in campus ministry. He went back to school and earned a degree from Marquette University. However his next assignment did not use his diploma; he served at a house for priests who were ill.
In 1976, then-Archbishop William Cousins of Milwaukee appointed Father Metz as the first liaison to the renewal movement while establishing the Catholic Charismatic Renewal office. In 1987, Father Metz became administrator of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in Rome. His role allowed him to travel around the world as he “kept tabs” on renewal offices around the globe, reporting his findings to the head of the office in the Vatican.
He stayed in Rome for eight years before going back to parish work in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. While there, he met a couple from the Orlando Diocese who invited him to escape the cold for a couple of weeks for some Florida sunshine. He stayed in Wisconsin until he turned 70, and while his former boss from Milwaukee — now Cardinal Timothy Dolan — offered him a job in Manhattan, Father Metz sought out the Sunshine State. He currently serves in residence at All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Father Metz said. “I’ve traveled a lot and the one thing I found out that was true all over the world is we are all basically alike, no matter the color of our skin or the language we use. To me it doesn’t matter where you are, the Eucharist is still the Eucharist. Jesus is still Jesus, and the Sacrament will always help you gain that union with God.”
Reverend Patrick Sheedy
Pastor, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, Orlando
Catholic education has been at the forefront of Father Patrick Sheedy’s priestly ministry. Throughout his priesthood, he has ministered at churches with Catholic schools and been actively involved in bringing Catholic education to many families.
“When we grew up (in Ireland), all we had was Catholic education,” said Father Sheedy. “In my mind it was not natural to go to a school that was not part of your religion. To me, your faith, your education and all of your upbringing should be integrated.”
Father Sheedy grew up on a farm in Ireland, the fourth of 12 children. As a boy, he dreamt of running the family farm; however, God had other plans. When his father gave that job to his younger brother, Father Sheedy decided to follow in the footsteps of his three uncles, who were priests, and three aunts, who were religious sisters, and, at the age of 17, entered the seminary.
On June 13, 1965, Father Sheedy and his brother, Michael, were ordained to the priesthood in Clare County, Ireland –and then soon after Father Sheedy arrived in Florida. The occasion was made even more memorable as it was also the date of their parents’ wedding anniversary.
Father Sheedy has served in a number of parishes and schools throughout the Diocese of St. Augustine, Diocese of Orlando and other parts of the country. In addition to Resurrection Catholic Church and Bishop Kenny High School, both in Jacksonville, and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he has served at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona, St. Charles Catholic Church in Orlando, and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lakeland. In 1988, he was assigned to Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, where he has emphasized stewardship as a way of life and played an instrumental role in the founding and building of Trinity Catholic High School.
Under his guidance, participation in faith formation and Catholic education programs has surged at Blessed Trinity; the parish began offering Perpetual Adoration, a ministry that continues 20 years later, as well as day care and elder care services. The faithful also welcomed three sisters from Uganda, who not only minister to the people of the parish and school, but also to the poor of the community under the parish’s Brother’s Keeper ministry. In addition, the parish established the Guadalupana Mission.
Looking back on the past 50 years, Father Sheedy said, “Our biggest responsibility as priests is not to get in God’s way. So many things happened in my life because of my priesthood that I would have never dreamed of. I have been involved with refugees, in prison work, and now in the stewardship way of life. Everything just seemed to happen, and it was not anything I did. It was God’s hand at work and I latched on to it.”
Reverend William Slight, M.S.
(Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette)
Parochial Vicar, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, Orlando
Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Father William Slight was five-years-old the first time he said, “I want to be a priest.” The pastor of his parish was visiting his home on a cold January day in 1944 in New Bedford, Mass. when he asked the young boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. Having earlier seen his mother put money in an envelope and give it to the senior priest, Slight said he wanted to be a priest, “so I can make a lot of money like you.”
As the years went by, Father Slight began to feel a call to serve as a missionary priest after listening to his cousin speak of his ministry as an Oblate Missionary priest in Haiti. Also learning of the work of a family friend, a Third Order Franciscan priest serving in China, only strengthened his resolve to live a missionary life.
When he was in middle school, one of his teachers, a Sister of the Holy Cross, gave him a brochure about the seminary for the Missionaries of La Salette.
“I read the brochure, and that night, I told my dad and mother that I wanted to go to the seminary,” Father Slight said. “I entered the seminary at the age of 13.”
Father Slight was ordained into the priesthood on Dec. 11, 1965 at St. Marie Parish in Manchester, NH.
In 1967, Father Slight was assigned to serve the faithful of the Philippines and he stayed there for 19 years. He said that even after returning to the United States, his heart remains with the Filipino people, and he has requested to be buried there upon his death.
After returning to the United States in 1986, Father Slight served as the mission director/vocations recruiter for his congregation for four years. He then served as superior for the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, NH, before going to Lufkin, TX, where he served as pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church, until his retirement in 2010.
Father Slight then moved to Florida and currently ministers as the parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Orlando.
Looking back on his 50 years of priestly life, Father Slight said, “My joy has been in the Eucharist as well as the Sacramental lives of the people I have served. I have also been blessed by the missionary aspect of the priesthood, getting out and meeting people where they are, in villages, places of work, small towns, just being part of their community as a spiritual leader.”
Reverend Bernard Fernando, O.F.M.
“My family was very very religious,” remembers Father Bernard Fernando, O.F.M. With two aunts who are religious sisters and two cousins who are priests, Father Fernando had many examples of the joy of religious life within his own family. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friars Minor, Holy Name Province community on May 26, 1965. Two months later, his sister, Deling Fernando, also entered religious life as a Sister of Providence.
Father Fernando spent the first nine years of his priesthood ministering in the Philippines, his home country, before moving to Newark, New Jersey in 1974. Upon his retirement in 2004, Father Fernando moved to Central Florida, where his sister, Sister Deling Fernando, S.P. had already been ministering for several years. Today, they both serve at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando. Father Fernando assists with celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and visiting the sick as well as being involved in Filipino ministry.
Father Fernando said his 50 years as a priest have been very rewarding, but not without challenges.
“Celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass is the best part of being a priest, to be there when Jesus comes down from his throne in heaven to the altar to be with the people.
“But the hardest part is preaching because you really have to practice what you preach,” added Father Fernando. “You might be preaching on patience without having much yourself!”
SILVER JUBILARIANS – 25 Years
Parochial Administrator, Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, Deltona
Soft-spoken and optimistic, Father Aquino said it was God’s providence that led him to the Orlando Diocese. Three years after his ordination on September 8, 1990 at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Basilica in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines, he served as pastor of a newly erected parish. Someone donated land, but he had to build the church and other building from scratch. He ran out of money while furnishing the church then got an invitation to visit the Orlando Diocese. Through the local Propagation of the Faith office, he visited two diocesan parishes in 1998. His bishop in the Philippines, who recognized the economic downturn within the United States told him, “Don’t expect too much” in terms of donations.
Both men were surprised when Father Aquino returned to the Philippines with $20,000 to finish his church. “I was able to finish the church,” he recalled. “I was so grateful to the diocese.”
Father Aquino returned to the diocese in 2004, this time to offer priestly ministry in this country. He served first at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winter Haven, Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Lake Wales and then Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando. He has served as parish administrator of Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Deltona since 2011.
While his parish is in the rural area of Volusia County, Father Aquino said there are Filipinos in the area who connect at the parish, especially during events important to the community such as the Simbang Gabi Christmas novena. And on the third weekend of September, he hopes to introduce a celebration of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patron of his homeland province.
The priest is grateful for the welcoming spirit of the entire Deltona parish community. That spirit, along with the many graces he has experienced in the last 25 years, proves to him the divine providence of his vocation.
“There have been miracles, little and big, extraordinary and ordinary moments that have mixed together and I (know) everything that has happened has happened in the right way,” he said. “I am so grateful that I see God’s hand in my life. I am God’s instrument. I know it is a cliché to say that, but it is true.”
Reverend Carlos Bedoya
Pastor, St. Clare Catholic Church, Deltona
From the time he was a little boy, Father Carlos Bedoya dreamed of becoming a priest. The fourth of 10 children, Father Bedoya had a way of convincing even his older siblings that playing Mass was fun, and he would always be the priest.
God’s calling remained strong in his heart throughout the years, and at the age of 13, Father Bedoya entered St. Pius X High School Seminary in Columbia. After graduating from high school, he moved to the United States and spent the next three years discerning his call to the priesthood.
“I had felt the calling since childhood, but I had to take time away to make sure this was truly what God wanted me to do,” Father Bedoya said in an interview shortly after his ordination. “The time away was very good for me because it made me realize that becoming a priest was more than a childhood dream.”
Father Bedoya studied at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. On Dec. 1, 1990, among a congregation of family, friends, priests and deacons, Father Bedoya was ordained into the Order of the Priesthood by Bishop Norbert Dorsey, C.P. at St. James Cathedral in Orlando.
The event was made even more special in that Father Bedoya was the first seminarian ordained by Bishop Dorsey, who had been installed as the third bishop of the Diocese of Orlando just two weeks prior.
During the past 25 years, Father Bedoya’s ministry has taken him throughout the diocese. In addition to serving as assistant director of vocations early in his priesthood, he has also served at St. James and St. John Vianney churches in Orlando, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona Beach, St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Apopka. In 2006, after serving one year as parochial administrator of St. Clare Catholic Church in Deltona, Father Bedoya was named its pastor and still ministers there today.
Reflecting on his years in the priesthood, Father Bedoya said, “When I was young, I was inspired by the priests who served in my parish. I hope I have brought that to my parishioners as well. The greatest joy of my ministry has been serving the people of God and bringing them the Sacraments.”
As for those discerning God’s call today, Father Bedoya offered this advice: “Listen to the words of the Lord and answer his call. The Lord is calling people today, but many are not listening. I urge young men to listen and respond to God’s call.”
“Before I was even in school, I felt God’s call to be a priest,” said Father Julian Villegas. “We went every Sunday to church and every first Friday, and my parents taught us to pay attention to the priest. When he said ‘I call the kids to think about the priesthood and to think about the missions,’ the precious idea of being a priest came to my mind immediately.”
Father Julian entered the seminary at an early age, but left his studies for a short time when his father passed away. The break proved to offer a special blessing to him.
“Coincidentally, the priest who was the rector at my seminary was named bishop and ordained me,” Father Villegas said.
Father Villegas was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 16, 1990 in the Diocese of Calabozo, Venezuela by Bishop Helímenas Rojo Paredes. His first assignment as a priest was spiritual director of the seminary.
“It was a great privilege to serve in such a delicate and important charge,” he said.
Father Villegas arrived in the Diocese of Orlando in 2006. During his tenure here, he has served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Melbourne and Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Winter Park. He has also served at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Oviedo. On April 17, 2008, he concelebrated Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the Pope’s 81st birthday.
Father Villegas is now retired and serves part-time at St. Clare Catholic Church in Deltona.
Reflecting on his ministry thus far, Father Villegas said, “Celebrating the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are the two biggest joys of my priesthood. People come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with tears in their eyes. After receiving the absolution, those tears are no longer from anguish, but of joy. It makes me happy to see that transformation.”
“God is a Father of love and He loves us so much that He find ways to show us the right path so we can enjoy the Heaven He has for all of us,” said Father Villegas. “As priests, we have to teach these plans from God, show the path to the faithful so they can walk into eternal life. I love the priesthood and it is a blessing to have received this ministry.”
Reverend David Vivero, Jr.
Pastor, St. Theresa Catholic Church, Belleview
Father David Vivero grew up in a family, steeped in the Catholic faith. Born in 1962 in Caloocan City, Philippines, Father Vivero knew at an early age that he wanted to be a priest.
“There is no doubt that my vocation is attributed to the religiosity of my parents and their deep respect for the Church and the clergy,” Father Vivero said. “I knew I wanted to become a priest at the early age of 13 when I entered Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo Leyte (in the Philippines).”
Father Vivero spent his high school and early college years at Sacred Heart Seminary, ultimately earning his undergraduate degree in philosophy. He continued his education at the San Carlos Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Cebu, where he studied under the priests of the Congregation of the Mission (C.M.). There he completed five years of theological studies and spiritual pastoral formation.
On April 3, 1990, Father Vivero was ordained into the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Palo. He served as a parochial vicar in three parishes before being appointed director for the Youth Ministry and Social Action Services by Archbishop Pedro Dean, a position he held for two years before coming to the United States in 1996 to join his parents, who now call Florida their home.
Upon his arrival, Father Vivero began ministering to the faithful at St. Jude Catholic Church in Ocala as their parochial vicar. Six months later, he was appointed parochial vicar at All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford and in 1998, continued his ministry at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park. In 2002, Father Vivero requested admission to the presbyterate of the Diocese of Orlando and was incardinated a diocesan priest by Bishop Norbert Dorsey, C.P.
Shortly thereafter, Father Vivero was appointed to St. Mary Catholic Church in Rockledge, where he served as parochial vicar for four years until arriving at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Belleview, where he now serves as pastor. Under his leadership, the parish has continued to flourish.
Father Vivero said the past 25 years as a priest have been a blessing.
“The best thing about my vocation to the priesthood is that the more you ponder and share about Jesus Christ our High Priest, the more you get close, understand and desire to be more like Him and in Him.”
“What is clear now, after 25 years, with all the learning experiences, candor, honesty, joys and rewards and even frustrations of this special life, is that I am ready to do it again.”