THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS! I can't quite believe that my time as Pastor of St. Joseph Parish and School has come to a close. Although, these last couple of months has been the most challenging of all the time I have been here, I leave with a GRATEFUL HEART and filled with wonderful memories! I remember .... My First Sunday Vigil Mass! It was a rainy afternoon and I walked into our church to find that our sound system had failed. I had to use our portable speakers and tried as hard as I can to project my voice so I can be heard. As if that wasn't enough! At the end of mass, I invited our visiting seminarian to dinner only to find that we were "trapped" as the electronic gate wouldn't open. We ended up walking to BJ's next door and got caught in a torrential downpour. We were soaked to the skin, BJ's was over crowded and we ended up eating hot dogs for dinner at Five Guys! Thankfully, we haven't had many problems with our sound system since then. I remember ..... My First School Opening! New Pastor, new Maintenance Supervisor, New Principal. Coming in on July 1, 2014, we had a month to prepare the school - cleaning, servicing the swamp coolers, tidying up, etc. After I had greeted the children, I walked towards the soccer field and was horrified to find that there was about half a foot of uncut grass. Too bad, all our maintenance crew were occupied. So, I took out the lawn mower, asked how it is operated and, in my black clerical attire under 100 degree heat, cut the grass myself. I was amused at parents jumping out of their cars taking pictures through the school fence! I had to do it a few more times until I eventually "retired" from that job! I remember ..... The Heat! Coming from a country where "swamp coolers" don't exist, I didn't know that it doesn't work in high humidity. Visiting classrooms at various times of the day, I realized that the heat was overpowering. To remedy the situation, I went to ALL the Home Depot and Lowe's outlets buying out whatever portable units I can get. The heat was still oppressive. It was during this time that I decided to put in air-conditioning at the school. Now, our children and teachers enjoy cool and comfortable classrooms. I remember ..... The Purple Church Windows! There were many times I would open the church on a Saturday afternoon for confessions to find broken purple glass on the floor. My fear was that we may have been broken in, only to find out that when birds hit the brittle window panes, it simply shatters! I would cover them up with whatever I can find - plastic sheeting, cardboard, aluminum foil, etc. Absolutely horrible! It was then that I proceeded to save up money to change it. The blessing came through a parish "GODMOTHER". With a stroke of her signature, the windows were paid for and our savings went to .... The next project! I remember ..... The "Old" Healy Hall! Built in 1953, it was the original church and from what I gathered it was renovated in the year 2000. The first thing I did was to subscribe to Architectural Digest and Phoenix Home and Garden magazines to get some ideas ... and set to work. The money we had was only good for a new floor and a coat of paint. However, when work progressed, other "GODFATHERS AND GODMOTHERS" appeared! Thus, we had our air conditioning system fixed, new Audio-Visual equipment and new blinds. We even had the "red doors" - which some people didn't like - until we found out about the "Theology of the Red Door" as a sign of sanctuary! We haven't heard any complaints since then! I remember ..... The Guadalupe Procession! As Vocations Director and member of the Presbyteral Council, I always advocated for a Guadalupe Procession for the diocese. Unfortunately, I didn't get the support to have one. Finally, when I became Pastor, I sought out Emilio and Maria Moya and together with Chuy Cornides and Ramses Enriquez, they listened to my "dream". Thereafter, Martin Gonzalez and Dr. Chris Arslanian, faithful Cathedral parishioners, loved the idea and joined us. Thus, the first of St. Joseph's Guadalupe Procession was born. And as they say, the rest is history! I remember ..... Our Lady's Sanctuary of Prayer! Having a chapel at the Parish Center was wonderful; however, it always reminded of being in the "waiting room of Urgent Care". It became my dream to renovate it. During a pilgrimage to San Juan de los Lagos in Mexico, I chanced upon a gallery that had a most unusual but very moving depiction of the Holy Trinity. It took me all of 15 seconds to decide to buy it. Now it hangs proudly in a more prayerful environment. I remember ..... My First Eating Etiquette Class! Growing up with a very properly mannered Grandmother, I learned how to eat with proper manners at a young age. Although I secretly prefer to eat like a "savage"; at the very least, I had that knowledge in store in case I need it. So, I wanted to teach our school children what I had learned when I was their age. Thankfully, a school parent provided me with most of the china, silverware and glassware to start me off. It was a wonderful experience as I taught them how to set up and be comfortable in fine dining etiquette. One of the mothers, after witnessing our "class", asked, "Father Ricky, can we invite you to our home for dinner so you can teach my husband how to eat properly?" I remember ..... "GOOD MORNING, FR. RICKY!" For a few years, I would stand at the entrance of the school during most mornings and would teach the children to greet me with "Good morning, Fr. Ricky!" What was amusing was that it was their parents who were dropping them off that felt pressured! Sometimes, as they were approaching me at the gate, I would hear the Mom's or Dad's warn their children in hushed tones, "Fr. Ricky is there. Now, don't forget to say, 'Good morning, Fr. Ricky'!" By then, I would be laughing because the parents end up greeting me before their children did. There are so many memories that I hold in my heart and many more lessons that I learned in my 4 years as Pastor. I will miss the affection that I received from parishioners and the kind words of encouragement. I will also miss the Filipino food that I was supplied with from my dearest friends. I will miss the loyalty and undying support of our Parish and School Staff.
Lastly, I say "Thank You" to you for "putting up with me" these last 4 years! Forgive me for my shortcomings and know that I leave with no rancor in my heart towards anyone but only fond and grateful memories!
This Fr. Ricky V. Ordonez, the Lord's faithful servant, signing off!
My new address will be:
c/o St. Philip the Apostle Parish 511 S. St. Philips St. Payson, AZ, 85541-51
Farewell Letter from Fr Ricky