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Archives Father De La Rosa: ‘Vocation is a gift from God’

November 18, 2020

By Mary Beth Bracy
Contributing Writer

MORRISONVILLE – Father Pedro Edgardo “Jay” De La Rosa became an altar server in the third grade and felt called to the priesthood. Although he continued to assist in his parish and was close friends with the seminarians, when Father De La Rosa was in high school, he considered becoming a physical therapist.

However, one day, his guidance counselor came into algebra class. Students were given the option of missing class to listen to the seminarians talk. Father De La Rosa, who hated algebra, went to listen to their talk. He took the exam to become a priest and passed.

In 1994, Father De La Rosa began his studies at Holy Rosary seminary. Following, he attended major seminary and majored in theology. By “hard work and God’s grace,” he graduated magna cum laude in 2003 and was ordained a deacon. On June 10, 2004, Father De La Rosa was ordained a priest. He served as parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Parish in the Archdiocese of Caceres in the Philippines for two years.

After, he was a professor and formator at Holy Rosary preparatory seminary for five years. He was also the “minister of the house” (e.g. ordering food, etc.) for the seminary. Next, Father De La Rosa was the “pioneer priest” of St. Francis Parish. He oversaw the construction of the church.

“When I came in 2011, it was all rice fields,” he explained.

He provided for the spiritual needs of three communities. When he left in 2018, the basic construction of the church, parish hall, and rectory were completed.

The Archbishop asked Father De La Rosa if he “wanted to go for a mission here in the U.S.” and “also relax after all this hard work.”

Father De La Rosa said, “whatever you say, I will obey.”

Before coming to the United States, Father De La Rosa also served at Divine Mercy Parish. When Father De La Rosa arrived at St. Alexander’s in Morrisonville on February 13, 2020 there was snow on the ground, and he was wearing sandals. The parishioners had a good chuckle. In the Philippines, a “tropical” country, there are only two seasons: “summer and rainy.”

Father De La Rosa comes from “an international family.” His parents are U.S. citizens and have lived in Los Angeles, California, since before he moved to the United States; Father De La Rosa visited them there several times. His eldest sister lives in Canada with her family. His brother is in the Philippines with his family, and he also has a sister in the UK with her husband. Father De La Rosa attended Naga City Parochial School and the University of Nueva Caceres.

His parents weren’t supportive of him going to seminary; Father De La Rosa’s father told him that if he would study law instead, he would buy him a new car. Later, when Father De La Rosa jokingly asked his father if he should become a lawyer instead, his father said no, “he should finish what he started.”

When Father De La Rosa’s grandmother was alive, he went with her “to Church to pray novenas and the Rosary every night” (even though he sometimes fell asleep). This helped him to consider a vocation. They prayed a popular novena to Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City, located in the Bicol region of the Philippines where Father De La Rosa is from, contains a replica of her statue, located in Salamanca, Spain. The shrines in Father De La Rosa’s city are among the largest Marian pilgrimage sites in the world. Over five million visit there each year! Many miracles occur through the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. She is the Patroness of the Bicol region. (See http://www.ourladyofpenafranciaboston.com/History.html)

“Priests who are assigned to other countries visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia as soon as they go home,” Father De La Rosa said. “That’s how they show their deep love and devotion to her.”

Father De La Rosa has a small picture of her in his room. They celebrate her feast the third Saturday of September. In preparation, they have nine days of Masses. Her image is transferred from the Cathedral to the Basilica and back in a special procession after the novena. Priests “try to go home to be with her for the celebration.”

Father De La Rosa was “excited” to come to the North Country. He said that it “is a different vineyard to work in, but all of the difficulties are made easy with the support of his pastor, Father Scott Seymour,” who is “not only a pastor but a friend and father to me.”

Father William Gordon, Deacon Mike and the office staff are also welcoming, he said.

Father De La Rosa loves playing basketball and, in the Philippines, played on the clergy basketball team. He enjoys playing with Father Eduardo Pesigan III. On his day off, Father De La Rosa is learning to cook and do laundry. He sometimes likes to go to the mall.

Reflecting on vocations, Father De La Rosa shared: “Vocation is a gift from God. Even the word vocation means it is God who calls. We only respond and have to be open to God’s invitation . . . . Vocation is a Universal Call to Holiness: God calls us to be priests or religious, God calls us to the married life, and God calls us even to be single. All these are only different roads toward one goal, which is to be holy.”

Father De La Rosa says that we should help youth discerning vocations with “prayers and also in whatever way we can be of help.”

We need to “be open to the Holy Spirit” and “to ask the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary… we always believe that one cannot be a priest without the help and the intercession of the Blessed Mother… We have to develop this devotion to our Blessed Virgin Mary, and every priest should have love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother.”

Father De La Rosa wants to thank Bishop Terry R. Lavalley, Father Christopher C. Carrera and all the priests of our diocese for their “welcoming.” He shared that he feels “the love and warmth of all of the priests here.” There is a “brotherhood in the presbyterium of the diocese,” he said. “Our parishioners are very good, they are very supportive and very appreciative of all of the little things that I do here. It makes me feel happy.”

Sometimes he misses family and friends, but he says “God gave me a larger family and companions” here. He remembers the words from the Scriptures to “bloom where you are planted.” Father De La Rosa wants “to do everything good that I can do here, to help and to spread the Gospel.”

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