Jesus “Jesse” Lopez
Jesse Lopez told his mom when he was about five years old that he wanted to be a priest. Recently, he took the first formal step to reaching that goal by joining the Missionary Oblates pre-novitiate program. Jesse grew up in
Los Angeles and attended an Oblate parish, Mary Immaculate. He was an altar server and member of the youth program. He always felt a nudge to religious life and that push intensified when he began making monthly mission trips to the Oblates’ ministries in Tijuana, B.C. Mexico. He would often take donations from his parish to Tijuana and was inspired by how committed the Oblates are to alleviating the physical and spiritual poverty of people most in need. “I have always felt a special attraction to the Oblates because they are so community oriented and mission focused,” said Jesse. “They change lives every day.”
Brother Henry Zayamoe, OMI
Brother Henry was born in Burma (currently Myanmar) in 1993 into a farming family. He was raised Catholic in a country where less than 1% of the people are Christian. His family was persecuted by the government because of their Catholic faith and his father’s political views.
When Henry was 13, his family left everything behind and slipped into Thailand, eventually finding safety in a refugee camp where a bamboo hut would be their home for six years.
In 2013 the Zayamoes immigrated to the United States and settle in Buffalo, New York where they became members of an Oblate parish. The Oblates helped the family adjust to life in the U.S. and Henry was so impressed by their missionary spirit that he began considering the priesthood. Today, Bro. Henry is a student at Oblate School of theology in San Antonio, Texas.
“The Oblates helped me and my family when we were new to a country, and I would love to help other refugees one day as an Oblate priest.”
Brother Mateusz Garstecki, OMI
Brother Mateusz is the first Missionary Oblate seminarian from the United States to study in Rome, Italy in 11 years. He is a student at the Oblates’ International Roman Scholasticate. Being selected to study in Rome is an opportunity given to only a handful of Oblate seminarians. The scholasticate is home to about 30 students representing roughly 15 countries. Brother Mateusz’s journey to Rome began as a child growing up outside of Chicago in a family very proud of their Polish culture. The Garsteckis traveled to Poland every couple of years and Bro. Mateusz connected strongly with his Polish and Catholic heritage. His formation would take him from New York to Illinois and Texas before arriving in Rome. Brother Mateusz’s journey has already taken him around
the world and every step of the way he becomes even more convinced that he must continue to learn how to be a vessel of the Good News.
Brother Floriberto “Beto” González Castañeda, OMI
Last year Bro. Beto professed his First Vows as a Missionary Oblates in Guatemala. He is the first Oblate from the United States Province to complete his novitiate year in Central America.
Brother Beto was born in Alacatlatzala, Mexico. As a teenager he worked as a taxi and bus driver. In 2005 he came to the United States and found work in New York City, first at a pizzeria and then at an electronics store. While in New York he was an active member of Ascension Parish in upper Manhattan. An Oblate priest, Fr. Daniel Leblanc, minsters at Ascension while also working at the United Nations.
As he got to know Fr. Daniel, Bro. Beto felt called to life as a missionary priest. Today he is taking theology courses in Mexico City. His classmates are impressed by his perseverance and commitment to being a servant of the poor.
Brother Pablo Henning, OMI
Brother Pablo was born in Venezuela and moved to Houston as a child. He grew up in the world of computer gaming. Graphic design became one of his many interests along with Art History and Bio-engineering. In addition to working in not-for-profit areas, he studied art in Paris, and lived in Denmark and Brazil where he explored ways to meet the medical needs
of people living far from medical facilities.While recovery from major hip surgery in 2017, he attended Mass and heard several readings about the Disciples. A spark was lit inside of him, and he began to feel like he might be called to religious life. He enrolled in the Oblate pre-novitiate program and last year completed his novitiate year. He is currently in his first year of studying theology as a scholastic.
Brother Dogo Anaguedeu, OMI
When Bro. Dogo decided to pursue a calling to become a Missionary Oblate, he was a little apprehensive to tell his dad. His father was a pagan and a polygamist. He had five wives and 50 children. When Bro. Dogo told dad about his intentions to become a priest, the response was simple: “Do it and be happy.” Brother Dogo grew up in Garoua, Cameroon. Though his dad was pagan, his mom was Catholic, and she and her children attended an Oblate parish. When Bro. Dogo realized that he wanted to be a priest, he only wanted to be a Missionary Oblate.“The Oblates are close to the people, especially the poor and abandoned,” said Bro. Dogo. “That was exactly what I wanted to be.”Brother Dogo is currently a student at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
Brother Rafael Banda, OMI
When Bro. Rafael was exploring a calling to religious life, he looked at joining the local diocese in Zambia or the Missionary Oblates. The decision came down to something simple — access. “To me, the diocesan priests always seemed so very far away from the people. You saw them at the altar and that was about it,” explained Bro. Rafael. “But the Oblates are different. They greet you; they love you. They become part of your family. The Oblates give the people they serve easy access to a priest.”Brother Rafael completed his pre-novitiate program in Zambia then spent his novitiate year in South Africa where he also attended the Oblates’ St. Joseph Scholasticate. In 2021, he continued his studies in the United States as a member of the Blessed Mario Borzaga Formation Community in San Antonio, Texas.
Brother Etienne Kabemba, OMI
Brother Etienne Kabemba, OMI is near the beginning of his journey as a Missionary Oblate. But he has probably already traveled to more countries than any other Oblate in the world. Etienne has visited 92 countries and 686 cities in an adventurous life which included spending last year at the Oblate novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. “I have been blessed to experience so many cultures during my adult life,” said Bro. Etienne, age 47. “But now it is time for me to get back to my first desire, and that is to become a priest.”Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Etienne spent years traveling the world working odd jobs and experiencing an abundance of cultures. Eventually he settled in Canada for 15 years where he earned a nursing degree and work in hospitals. If everything goes as planned, Bro. Etienne will be ordained in about five years. When he becomes a missionary priest, he will be abundantly qualified to be a minister to the poor anywhere in the world.
Brother Jacques Marie Liba, OMI
When he was a boy growing up in Chad, Bro. Jacques Marie Liba, OMI used to tag along with his parents as they taught Catechism classes at a Missionary Oblate parish. Watching his parents teach the Catholic faith left an impression on young Jacques, and today he is studying for the priesthood so that he can continue that family tradition of sharing the faith as a Missionary Oblate priest. “I see the role of a priest as being a teacher,” said Bro. Jacques.
“I want to teach the Bible to people in their own languages.” Brother Jacques grew up in a small village where the Oblates ran a parish. His parents were active members there and instilled a strong faith in their eight children. Today, Brother Jacques is studying for the priesthood at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He arrived in 2021 and is the first Oblate from Chad to study in the United States.
Father Victor Patricio-Silva, OMI, Vocation Director — U.S. Province
Originally from Acapulco, Mexico, Fr. Victor grew up in a Catholic family of ten children. At age 16, he started his own Catholic youth group and would serve in youth groups for nine years. He felt a calling to the priesthood as a teenager but at first resisted it. He then decided to spend a year in the Oblate formation program to see what might happen. “My vocation had its struggles and battles. But when you love something, these circumstances take second place,” said Fr. Victor. “Love is the key to my vocation. I know it is God Who first loved me. I am only responding to this infinite love of God.” Father Victor was ordained in 2018. He takes great pride in being not just a priest, but an Oblate priest, someone who concentrates on helping the most vulnerable in society. Today, Fr. Victor is the Oblate Vocation Director in the United States, helping the next generation of Missionary Oblates begin their Oblate journey.
Father Jesse Esqueda, OMI, Part-Time Vocation Director for the Border District Tijuana/San Diego
Father Jesse grew up in El Monte, California. After high school he felt a strong calling to do missionary work and spent two years in Honduras working with young people. “The experience of sharing my life with the poor, the sick and the suffering changed my life,” said Fr. Jesse.
Upon returning to California, Fr. Jesse became the Youth Minister at the Oblates’ Santa Rosa Church in San Fernando. The Oblates’ compassion and zeal for mission inspired him to join the formation program. He was ordained in 2014 and ws assigned to the vast Oblate mission in Tijuana, B.C. Mexico.
Today, as Superior of the Tijuana mission, Fr. Jesse oversee a vast network of spiritual and humanitarian ministries to the poorest of the poor. He is also a part-time Vocation Director for the Mexico/United States border region.
Father Steven Montez, OMI, Assistant Minister for Oblate Vocations
Father Steven Montez, OMI became an Oblate priest on September 17, 2021. As the newest Oblate priest in the U.S., Fr. Steven understands that he is continuing a legacy of serving the poor and needy established by generations of Oblates. Father Steven was born into the Oblate family. His uncle is an Oblate priest who performed Steven’s Baptism. Father Steven grew up in St. Martin de Tours Parish in Kingsville, Texas which was staffed by the Oblates. While a student at the University of Texas — Austin, Fr. Steven felt that something was missing in his life, so he turned to prayer. “While praying about what it was that God wanted me to do, a very clear idea came to me: religious life. It then became obvious that God placed wonderful Oblates in my life to show me their charism in action, caring for the poor and abandoned. At the thought of becoming an Oblate I felt a quiet peace.”