After completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy, Francisco Bringuela had reached a crossroads that many young men experience in their lives, and a decision had to be made. As the middle child of his family in the Philippines, he had two choices. He could stay in the familiar surroundings of his home country and live a good life close to his relatives, or he could follow his dream of adventure in America, and ultimately, his calling to become a Catholic priest.
Now in his third year of formation at the Mount Angel Seminary, Bringuela, known as “Kiko” to his friends, finds himself immersed in American culture and the Catholic Church in the United States. Upon reflection, he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is Bringuela’s pastoral internship year where he is assigned to a church to learn and experience the real life duties of a parish priest.
For the next year, The Madeleine Parish in Northeast Portland will be his home where his supervisor is the church’s pastor, Father Mike Biewend. As a component of his internship, Bringuela is responsible for meeting the goals and expectations of a learning agreement he has developed with Father Biewend. Several of those goals include writing and delivering a reflection on God’s Word and building interpersonal relationships with the parishioners. Bringuela says Father Biewend and the people of The Madeleine are making the relationship goal very attainable.
“I’m really glad to be here because the people at the parish are very friendly and welcoming and I have a very good supervisor in Father Mike,” said Bringuela. “I will grow and learn in this parish.”
Father Biewend says he wants Bringuela to experience all aspects of the parish from the day-to-day pastoral responsibilities to spending time with the building committee to learn about roofing and sidewalk replacements. Skills you might not necessarily learn in a seminary classroom. “I want Bringuela to have the fullest experience of The Madeleine as possible and to really see what life in a parish is all about.”
Bringuela says his internship has given him a real appreciation for how busy life is for a parish priest in the U.S. that is somewhat different then a priest’s life in the Philippines. Does that mean he is heading back to his home country when his schooling is over? Archbishop John Vlazny will be happy to hear Bringuela’s answer.
“In the beginning I had a difficult time thinking of that, but as I started to get to know the people and the culture, I feel like I want to be here and to serve,” said Bringuela.