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Sacred Heart welcomes new priest
Sacred Heart Catholic Church has a fresh face behind the altar, the Rev. Jose Chavenia Jr.
He likes to be called Father Junn (pronounced June). He enjoys listening to jazz music; it plays in the background in his office. He plays tennis and badminton, and basketball, although not like he once did since a knee injury has limited him to primarily shooting.
He’s a Los Angeles Lakers basketball fan and cheers for the New York Yankees baseball team. He enjoys watching a good movie and can recommend several.
He’s coming from a larger community and parish in Vancouver, Wash., but he’s adapting to life on the Plateau.
He wants the community, at the Enumclaw church and around town, to know he’s approachable, friendly and feeling welcome here.
“I’m enjoying the peaceful, small town. There’s been a warm reception,” he said. “I am already feeling at home.”
Father Junn took over the role of priest administrator July 1. He replaces the Rev. Victor Olvida, who has served Sacred Heart for the past four years and begins a new assignment in Sequim, Wash.
Born and raised in the Philippines, it’s been a long journey to Sacred Heart’s door for Father Junn.
At age 12, he entered the Seminary in the Philippines. In 1981, he enrolled in the major seminary graduating with degrees in philosophy and theology. He was ordained as a deacon in 1988 and as a priest in 1989. His first assignment was as Parochial Vicar in the Philippines. He served as parochial vicar in various parishes and also served as Vicarial Social Action Coordinator for 16 years there. In 2001, he was assigned as the Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, a parish of 20,000 members. In 2007, he traveled to the United States as a mission preacher and while here, he was encouraged to apply to the Archdiocese of Seattle for a stay during a sabbatical. He’s spent time back East and in Iowa and Texas, but his most recent assignment has been as a parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s parish in Vancouver, Wash.
Priesthood runs in Father Junn’s family. He comes from a long list of brothers, nephews and uncles who have heard the calling.
The past couple weeks, Father Junn has been making himself comfortable in his new home and with his new community. The parish hosted a welcome dinner for him after Saturday evening’s mass and receptions after each of its three Sunday masses – 9 and 11 a.m. and the 1 p.m. Spanish mass.
He said he’s finding Sacred Heart is a loving and caring community and he hopes it builds.
He’d like to see more people become active participants, especially youth and families. He encourages them to share their time, treasure and talent, to become involved and engaged in the church, its programs and its community.
“God is calling us to be the best we can,” he said.
He said he looks forward to working with the parishes’ variety of ministries.
Father Junn said it will all take time, but he wants everyone to know they can come to him – his door is open.
“Everyone has the right to be heard and loved,” he said. “The most painful feeling of a person is rejection. My office is open, call the secretary to make an appointment or talk to me directly. There is always a solution for every problem. We need to rely more on the grace of God.”
Referencing Romans from the Bible, he said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
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