There were few empty spaces in Holy Rosary Cathedral Friday evening June 30 as the archdiocesan faithful turned out to witness and support the ordination to the priesthood of Arpee Sacramento Urquico.
His journey to the priesthood began in Philippines where he entered a Dominican Seminary. His cousin, Father Gerard Joy Montiague, living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, convinced him to come to Canada. He recommended Arpee to the late Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan who asked Director of Personnel Reverend Danilo Rafael to meet with Arpee during a planned visit to Manila. “I thought he was a good man so Archbishop Bohan asked me to begin the process of getting him the necessary papers to come to Canada,” said Father Rafael.
Arpee arrived in Canada in June, 2013, and entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton to continue his priestly studies. He spent a year of internship at St. George’s Parish, Assiniboia, and was ordained to the transitional Deaconate on September 2, 2016.
The ordination liturgy was a multi-lingual affair, with some readings in English, French and Tagalog the national Filipino language. The local Filipino choir performed two Tagalog hymns during the ordination ritual. The ritual began with Deacon Barry Wood calling Deacon Arpee to come forward. Reverend John Kohler of St. Joseph’s Seminary presented the candidate to Archbishop Bolen and then testified to his worthiness to be ordained priest. Urquico then responded to a series of questions by the Archbishop regarding his preparedness and determination to be priest. Arpee’s responses were positive, loud, and clear.
In his homily, the Archbishop had a few words of wisdom for the young priest and for Christians in general: “You are being given a share in the Lord’s mission. It is the mission of each Christian in one way or another to share in the Lord’s own mission,” and he quoted from the readings to show how God shares His mission with everyone. ”Jesus entrusts the Church with His mission, but empowered with His Holy Spirit,” said Bolen.
“There is something profoundly incarnational about priestly ministry,” he continued, and explained how God came to an utterly unprepared Mary and Joseph for this task of having God, the Master of the world, placed in their hands. “God asked them to be themselves and just do it,” said Bolen. Likewise, he said, each priest has to deal with the shocking intimacy of God. “Arpee, you will hold the body and blood of Christ in your hands, you will baptize in God’s name, you will forgive in God’s name, you will anoint in God’s name. Arpee, trust that God will be there for you as you serve. Mary was left holding the baby, the incarnate word,” said Bolen, “and you are to care for God’s people. You will hold the Lord in your hands and you will be you with all your gifts and your foibles, your blessings, your temptations, your struggles, your successes, your tendencies for sin, they are all going to be there tomorrow morning. But it’s all about God’s radical embrace of the human condition and about God’s radical embrace of you as disciple.”
“There is something profoundly paschal about priestly life, being brought from death to life, the mystery you will proclaim is centred upon who God is, how God speaks to us, what God does and the mystery of what God will work in your people and in you.”
Following the ordination ritual a reception was held in the Cathedral auditorium, and several Filipino traditional foods were served.
Reverend Arpee celebrated his first Mass the next morning in Holy Rosary Cathedral, at the 9:00 am Mass, and was assisted by Rector Very Reverend Lorne Crozon. At the end of Mass Reverend Arpee Urquico stood in front of the congregation and expressed his joy at being there and that he was really looking forward to serve as priest in the Regina Archdiocese. His obvious pleasure was greeted with a spontaneous loud and sustained round of applause.