Path to Priesthood:

Deacon Jerald Geronimo & Deacon Gerardo Vazquez

The two men who are to be ordained on June 4 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption were asked several questions about themselves  and their path to priesthood. Their answers and the questions follow. Please support them in prayer as they embark on their vocation of serving God and the people of God.


QUESTION: Why are you embarking on this vocation?

Answer: I’m embarking on this priestly vocation as I believe that the Lord is calling me to shepherd and be a father to the people of San Francisco as His priest. The mission of the earthly father is to bring his family to the gates of heaven. In the same way, the life of the priest as spiritual father is centered on walking with his parishioners – his spiritual sons and daughters – and guiding them toward the way, the truth, and the life eternal. In this greatest of adventures, I hope to emulate the loving presence of the Good Shepherd to the people of God and become an instrument of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

Deacon Gerald Geronimo

Q: What drew you to the priesthood and what if any obstacles did you encounter toward making the final commitment?

A: I’ve always wanted to be a priest ever since I could remember. As a young 5-year-old boy, I would “play Mass” with the other kids at day care and imitate the actions of the priest. I then became an altar server all throughout grade school and high school. In seeing the witness of seminarians and priests, I observed a palpable joy that accompanied their life of service to the Lord – something which was deeply impressed upon my mind and heart.

In the midst of the temptation to shift my gaze from the things of heaven to the things of the world, the Lord’s voice remained ever clear especially during moments of silent prayer. In college, I was led one day to these following words of Scripture during a powerful experience in Eucharistic Adoration: “Come and follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men” – words that have propelled me forth to commit myself to the priestly vocation.

Q: This is a challenging time for every priest. What do you see as the greatest challenges and how are you preparing yourself to be a priest taking into account those challenges?

A: One of the greatest challenges of the times would be the evangelization of the truth of the Gospel. The world undoubtedly seeks to muddle the truth, leaving the people of God in turbulent and confusing waters. The task of the priest then is to calm these waters with the teachings of Christ and His Church, through both word and deed. In all this, he is to do so with the disposition of the Good Shepherd, who is meek and humble of heart. It is in personifying His gentleness of spirit, I believe, that will enable me to journey with the people, especially those on the peripheries, and together face the challenges of the times with resiliency and hope.

Q: What do you see as the greatest hopes and joys of the priesthood?

A: I see the greatest joy of the priesthood as being the celebration of the sacraments, especially the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Through the faithful offering of the sacraments, the priest assists in the Father’s divine plan of sanctification of the entire world. He becomes a beacon of Christ’s light in a world that is overshadowed by darkness, as he offers the people, by the gift of his ordination, the grace they most desperately need, all through his priestly, anointed hands. This will be the greatest joy for me as a priest.

Geronimo Family

Q: Would you share some personal background about yourself?

A: Age: 28 years old.

Education: Holy Angels School, Colma; Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, San Francisco; San Francisco State University.

Hometown: Born and raised in Daly City, California; baptized at St. Andrew Church in Daly City; parishioner of Holy Angels Church, Colma.

Family: Mother: Andrea Geronimo; father: Jerico Geronimo; younger brother: Justin Geronimo.

Languages: English, Tagalog, some Spanish.

Upon ordination, I will be the first Filipino American priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco since its founding in 1853.

My Filipino culture has played a significant role in my upbringing. Through my culture, I have learned the values of family, communion and self-sacrifice. These values will be of the utmost importance as I soon embark on a vocation that is precisely centered on sacrificial love, all for God and neighbor.


QUESTION: Why are you embarking on this vocation?

Answer: When I was 5 years old, I remember telling my parents I wanted to be a priest; something in me was somehow naturally drawn to be close to Jesus. I was 8 when I started altar serving with my brothers and godfather. I somehow had a natural desire to want to serve others, so that in giving of myself (my talents, my time or service) I felt fulfilled and at peace. Not taking seriously my call earlier in my teens made me forget all about the priesthood until I was already working in industry and was looking toward marriage. Nonetheless, the more serious I became about marriage the more serious I grew in my love for God and the Church. After a while, there was nothing more that I wanted; nothing else would ever completely satisfy the thirst I had (and still have) for God. I have chosen to pursue the priesthood not because of anything special I have personally done, but it is because God has tugged my heart, and has called me over and over and did not stop until I finally entered seminary. I so much look forward to finally fulfilling the role for which I believe God has created me – to be a priest after His own Sacred Heart. Out of this love grew my love for His Blessed Mother, who guides me ever closer to her Son and reminds me every day, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Deacon Gerardo Vazquez

Q: What drew you to the priesthood and what if any obstacles did you encounter toward making the final commitment?

A: : My devotion to the most Holy Eucharist in Eucharistic Adoration is what ultimately drew me to the priesthood. Spending time in silence before our Lord and really seeking His will for my life was key to drawing me closer to the priesthood. For some time, pursing this vocation was a challenge because I was nearly engaged with “the one” I thought I was going to marry. We spent so much time together in prayer (daily Mass, adoration, Liturgy of the Hours and the holy rosary) that with time I felt more drawn to our Lord than to her; I felt like I was cheating on her with God! I felt called to love in an infinite way – to love as Christ loves, except as His priest. I felt that if I did not pursue the priesthood, or at least fully discern it by entering the seminary, I would be disingenuous and would never be truly at peace. What was also difficult was that I financially supported my parents and that if I entered the seminary, I would have to sell off the house I bought them and they would have to support themselves (especially after my dad had lost his leg from a bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis). My prayer was that if I am truly called to the priesthood that God would take care of my parents … and He certainly did! My parents are financially stable and we have since traveled all over Europe visiting the beauty the Catholic Church brings to every culture.

Q: This is a challenging time for every priest. What do you see as the greatest challenges and how are you preparing yourself to be a priest taking into account those challenges?

A: The greatest challenges I foresee is the uphill battle that we, as a Church, are already experiencing – postmodernism, relativism and secularism. As such, there has been a loss of reverence and love for the sacred and an indifference to what is true, good and beautiful. This has caused division inside and outside the Church, which has affected our parishes, schools and vocations.

To tackle these challenges, my primary focus has been on becoming a personal testament to the love and mercy of God by the way I live my life – to practice what I preach and to teach what I believe. I try to maintain a working knowledge of modern-day problems and how they have affected society as a whole, and study methods of healing the wounds caused by these false philosophies. Studying these issues during my time in seminary has been vital because this is the reality that every priest will face, if not already. Throughout my years in seminary, I have inculcated a deep prayer life to help preserve my relationship with the Divine Physician: praying the Divine Office, maintaining my daily Holy Hour, daily rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and meditating over sacred Scripture. By remaining close to the source of grace I myself may be an instrument of grace for others.

Q: What do you see as the greatest hopes and joys of the priesthood?

A: The greatest hopes and joys that I see in the priesthood is the fact that the priest brings all people into contact with God’s grace. This occurs through prayer, community life, and especially in administering the sacraments. There is also great hope and joy for the priest himself especially when he has a deep spiritual prayer life which helps him to refocus and brings him peace in times of difficulty and joy in times of sadness. Priest mentors, friends or spiritual directors also give hope and joy to the priest because it reminds him that he is not alone.

Vazquez Family

Q: Would you share some personal background about yourself?

A: I am currently 41 years old and have a background in aerospace engineering (bachelor’s and master’s degrees), having worked in the aerospace industry for about 12 years (NASA, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney). I was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in Fresno, California, since I was 3 years old. I’ve lived in the Bay Area since I was 21 for school and work. I speak English, Spanish and some Italian.

Parents (both living & married) – Ignacio Vázquez (Dad) & Teresa Vázquez (Mom).

Siblings (all living): Ignacio Vázquez Jr., Adrian Vázquez, Claudia Vázquez-Geis, Oscar Vázquez, Lucy Galicia and Carolina Cignetti.

This article also appears in the upcoming June Catholic San Francisco Magazine.