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Monday, May 3, 2010

Mission Journey MJ-USA

Mission Journey:
USA: The Beginnings

On the feast of the Solemnity of the Ascension in 2002, Fr. Michael Montoya, who was then in Chicago, Illinois publicly declared his intention to be part of the founding group of Missionaries of Jesus. The group later asked him to look for possibilities for the Missionaries of Jesus in the USA. His initial contacts at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago where he just recently concluded his graduate studies proved very helpful. Having consulted people around the Chicago area, and particularly Rev. Robert Schreiter, CPPS, recommendations were made to the General Coordinating Committee of the MJ. The original plan was to stay in Chicago because of the contacts already made. In fact, having already declared his membership to the Missionaries of Jesus, Fr. Montoya was left without residence nor financial sustenance. He has sought the help of some friends and relatives in Chicago.
The family of Avelia and Andres Mendoza in Streamwood, Illinois became Fr. Montoya’s residence while making arrangements with the priests of St. Monica in Chicago who have shown interests in inviting him to be part of the parish staff.
Fr. Ed Panek, a diocesan priest and associate at St Monica and Fr. Montoya’s friend and classmate at the Catholic Theological Union, has been inviting Fr. Montoya to celebrate the Eucharist at St. Monica on weekends. Apparently, the parish was concerned about the growing number of Filipinos in the area and has wanted to respond to their needs. When Fr. Panek heard that Fr. Montoya was looking for a place to stay and minister, he talked to the pastor, Fr. Michael A. Walsh to invite him to be part of the parish staff. Fr. Walsh made everything possible to facilitate the paper works needed to accept Fr. Montoya at the
Archdiocese of Chicago. In August 2002, Fr. Montoya was made associate at St. Monica Parish in Chicago. He was asked to focus his ministry on the growing number of Filipinos in the area.
The welcome given by Fr. Walsh extended to allowing St. Monica Church to be the first base of the Missionaries of Jesus in the US. Thus, in the early communication sent out, St. Monica Parish at 5136 N. Nottingham Ave., Chicago, IL 60656 became the first official address of the Missionaries of Jesus in the US.
While still at St. Monica, Fr. Montoya continued his search for the best possible way to start in the US. Then one winter morning, a phone call seemed to answer his prayers.
Msgr. Dave O’Connell from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles called Fr. Montoya wanting to hire him as organizer for his parish community. Apparently, he has heard about Fr. Montoya’s organizing experience with Valley Interfaith in Texas from the Industrial Areas Foundation (the mother organization for Valley Interfaith) and was informed that he has been looking for a place to minister. The lead organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation, Ernie Cortez, informed him and facilitated the contact. Fr. Montoya then told Msgr. O’Connell that he has been looking for a place where the Missionaries of Jesus can found their community in the US. So Msgr. O’Connell asked to facilitate the contact with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
That very same afternoon, after the call of Msgr. O’Connell, Fr. Montoya received another call. This time from the Vicar for Clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Msgr. Craig Cox. Msgr. Cox’s initial comments were, “I have heard about your group, and your group came highly recommended. We want you in our Archdiocese!” Fr. Montoya was invited to come to Los Angeles to look at the possibilities. After some negotiations and discussions, the Missionaries of Jesus accepted the invitation to work in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
There were different parishes mentioned as possibilities. After having reviewed the profile for each parish mentioned, having assessed the needs of the communities presented, and
looking at the personnel available from the Missionaries of Jesus, the General Coordinating Committee of the MJ’s proposed from among the different parishes, Precious Blood Church in downtown Los Angeles as the initial missionary commitment of the Missionaries of Jesus in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. On July 12, 2003, Fr. Montoya became the first Missionaries of Jesus in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was assigned administrator pro tem while awaiting the arrival of two other Missionaries Jesus. On August 7, 2003, Frs. Melchor Villero and Gino Santos arrived at the Bradley International Airport in Los Angeles. Thus completed the first Missionaries of Jesus Team USA. Fr. Melchor Villero was made pastor of Precious Blood Church on August 7, 2003, Fr. Gino Santos was asked to help out at St. Barnabas Church in Long Beach Area but remained a resident priest at Precious Blood Church. Fr. Montoya became the associate at Precious Blood while at the same time the District Coordinator of Missionaries of Jesus in the USA.

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