By Malie Hudson
On May 18, Bishop Gerald Barnes will ordain three men to the priesthood. It will be the culmination of nearly a decade of formation for Ted Drennan, Juan Carlos Lopez and Charles “Gino” Galley, who came from various backgrounds to pursue a vocation to the priesthood.
Lopez, 48, knew at nine years old that he would eventually become a priest.
“I was never asked or encouraged to enter the seminary or the priesthood, but I was very interested,” said Lopez. “At a very young age, after catechism, I would assist with Mass every Sunday. I developed a strong devotion to Mary and the Rosary. I enjoyed sitting in the pews in Mass before the crucifix and I would feel a profound peace.”
He grew up in a Catholic family in Orange County but his parents weren’t practicing Catholics. In spite of it, he felt a strong calling to the priesthood. After graduating from high school, he worked in fast food for several years before landing a position as supervisor for a cleaning company in San Bernardino. As the youngest in his family, he was responsible for taking care of his parents. He continued working and supporting his parents for nine years. His mother passed away during that time and eventually he moved to Perris with his father and family.
He found a home parish at St. Christopher in Moreno Valley where he was actively involved in volunteering as a lay minister and assisting the priests with a variety of tasks. He grew close to the parish pastor who served as inspiration for the kind of priest he wanted to be. In 2010, he finally entered the seminary.
He found that going back to school at age 40 was a challenge. But he overcame it and earned a philosophy degree and will soon complete a Master’s Degree in Divinity.
“Being a seminarian, you live in communion with other seminarians, and we have a very multicultural seminary. You’re going to see that when you’re out there working in the parish,” said Lopez. “Not just with certain groups but different ways of thinking, to be able to be open with other cultures and to really understand the cultures of others and to be open minded and sensible.”
When Lopez isn’t busy studying, he enjoys being in nature, whether at the beach or in the mountains.