| In a very emotional and celebratory ordination on the feast of Our Lady of
Fatima — May 13, 2023 — the Archdiocese of Miami gained five new priests.
ordained were Saul Holanda Martins Araujo from Brazil, Rikinson Bantou from
Haiti, Sebastian Grisales Bedoya from Colombia, Gustavo Andres Santos Higuera
from Venezuela, and Andrew Joseph Vitrano-Farinato from Cooper City.
Thomas Wenski presided at the livestreamed ordination, which was celebrated at a St. Mary Cathedral packed with family, friends, fellow priests and deacons. Also
there to support the new priests were seminarians from St. John Vianney in
Miami, St. Vincent de Paul in Boynton Beach, and Redemptoris Mater in Hialeah;
religious; and members of the Serra Club of Miami, which promotes vocations.
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Father Andrew Vitrano-Farinato gives one of his first blessings to his grandfather, Deacon Vincent Farinato, after his ordination. He was one of five men ordained by Archbishop Thomas Wenski May 13, 2023, at St. Mary Cathedral.
emotional, so excited, so blessed. It’s almost hard for me to put into words,”
said Bernadette Farinato, the mother of Father Vitrano-Farinato, before the
ordination. “I think about it and I start to tear up.”
her son went directly into seminary after graduating from Archbishop Edward
McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, it didn’t surprise her. Father
Vitrano-Farinato had been prepared by his life experiences for the priesthood,
Farinato said. She noted that he developed excellent public speaking skills as
a high school senior, when he joined — and preached at meetings of — the Men of
St. Mark group at his parish, St. Mark in Southwest Ranches. Many members of
the Men and Women of St. Mark groups attended the ordination to support Father
Vitrano-Farinato, as they had throughout his time in seminary.
family members present included his father, Richard Vitrano, his grandfather,
Deacon Vince Farinato, 97, and his cousins.
Farinato observed that the line of people waiting for blessings from his
grandson was the longest. “Don’t tell anyone I said this,” he added, “but he’s
going to be the next Italian American pope.”
addition to those physically present to celebrate Father Vitrano-Farinato’s
priesthood, a good friend was surely cheering him on from heaven. Father Elkin
Sierra, who died of cancer April 11, “bequeathed [Andrew] one of his
vestments,” Farinato shared emotionally. “Through all of his pain and
suffering, he thought to give him this.”
a God-incidence, perhaps, Father Vitrano-Farinato’s first assignment will be at
St. Louis Parish in Pinecrest — Father Sierra’s last assignment.
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Newly ordained Father Saul Araujo prepares to join fellow priests in the sanctuary after Archbishop Thomas Wenski ordained him and four others men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Miami, May 13, 2023, at St. Mary Cathedral.
Silva came all the way from Brasilia, Brazil, to support Father Araujo, whom he
watched grow up.
Araujo had to overcome the “challenges of being far from family and home and entering
the seminary at 17 right out of high school,” Silva said. “He left everything,
everything: his customs, language, friends, and family.”
Silva, other friends from the Neocatechumenal Way in Brasilia and members of
the Miami community also came to show support. Father Araujo’s fellow seminarians
from the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater seminary sang during the Mass,
some playing violin and guitar. Members of the Neocatechumenal Way also danced
and sang at the reception after Mass, playing guitar, tuba, trumpet, bongos,
tambourine, ukulele, and more.
also traveled all the way from Brasilia to participate in the ordination,
including Father Araujo’s parents, Wilton and Sonia, and four of his nine
brothers: Augusto, Lorenzo, Pedro, and Silas.
will be a good priest,” Father Araujo’s brother, Silas, said. “I am very proud
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Newly ordained Father Rikinson Bantou gives a blessing to a well-wisher after the ceremony. He was one of five men ordained by Archbishop Thomas Wenski May 13, 2023, at St. Mary Cathedral.
PRIEST IN OUR FAMILY’
Father Bantou’s ordination, his cousin, Aline Bantou, shared the significance
of this moment for her family, including her parents, Father Bantou’s uncle
Pelicie and aunt Lauzi. “We feel happy ... whole. It’s a major moment for our
family. He’s the first priest in our family.”
Bantou came to the United States from Haiti in 2017. “When Rikinson came, he
lived with us,” Bantou said. “We knew he came to become a priest.”
added that his greatest gifts as a priest are that “he’s such a compassionate, fair,
honest, and genuine person.”
Eddie Blanco, from St. Brendan High School in Miami, said he too was overjoyed
at Father Bantou’s ordination. Deacon Blanco worked with Father Bantou when
Father Bantou ministered at the school during his formation.
a wonderful man, a man of God,” Deacon Blanco said. “For me, it’s one of the best
days ever. It’s a gift. God has a good, good priest.”
Photographer: ROCIO GRANADOS | LVC
Newly ordained Father Sebastian Grisales shares an emotional embrace with Msgr. Pablo Navarro, rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami, who vested him after his ordination. Msgr. Navarro also was his pastor at St. John Neumann in Miami for many years.
BUNCH OF KINDNESS’
Arroyo, of St. John Neumann Parish in Miami, said his friend, Father Grisales,
will bring several gifts to the church, including “warmth, understanding,
tenderness, and a bunch of kindness.”
was a former coordinator of Youth Ministry at St. John Neumann, where Father
Grisales served as a peer minister and coordinator before entering seminary.
almost like watching your own son being ordained and blessed,” Arroyo said.
Butz, another friend of Father Grisales, said he has a “very priestly heart,
the heart of a father, a heart that loves and guides.”
the family present was Father Grisales’ brother, Santiago, who joyfully lined
up to receive his brother’s blessing after the ordination.
very honored to be here and to see my brother go so far. It’s a huge
accomplishment for him and our mom. She brought us to this country 25 years
ago. I’m so grateful to her for that.”
happiness I feel is unexplainable right now,” said their mother, Doriley
her son began serving in the church at the age of nine or 10, she said, “Every
day he became more in love with what he was doing.”
he decided to discern the priesthood, his mother was overjoyed. “He asked me my
opinion about him becoming a priest, and I said, ‘I’ll support you in whatever
decision’ ... I offered him to God the moment discernment began.”
process was very difficult,” she said, “but always Father Sebastian and I were
close to God, and we continued to move forward.”
anything related to God, he never says no,” she added.
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Newly ordained Father Gustavo Santos smiles at the camera after receiving his priestly vestments at the ceremony where Archbishop Thomas Wenski ordained him and four others to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Miami, May 13, 2023, at St. Mary Cathedral.
NOT GOING TO BELIEVE IT’
Santos’ family traveled all the way from Valencia, Venezuela, for the
ordination, including his mother, Evelyn, father, Roberto, grandmother, Eladia
Delgado, sisters, Maria Victoria and Gabriela, and brother, Roberto.
mother said she was surprised when her 14-year-old son told her, “Mom, you’re
not going to believe it, but I want to be a priest.”
reaction was, ‘It requires sacrifice. You’re not going to have a family. You
will be away from family,’” she recalled.
added that his response floored her: “It’s more important to have the body and
blood of Christ within me than anything else.”
going to be a good priest,” predicted Fatimo Garcia, who got to know Father
Santos at Corpus Christi Parish in Miami. “He’s like a grandson to me.”
Cristina Cabrera Jarro and Rocío Granados of La Voz Católica tributed to this
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