This past summer, our St. Michael’s community was blessed to welcome Fr. Henry Guillen-Vega, beginning his assignment as Parochial Vicar on Aug. 15, 2023.
“It has been a blessing to be part of this faith-filled community and to serve the parishioners,” Fr. Henry says. “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Larry Silva, Fr. Gregorio, the Vicar for Clergy, and Fr. Lio, the Pastor, for entrusting me with this opportunity.”
Fr. Henry was born and raised in Masaya, Nicaragua. Growing up in a family of three half-brothers and three half-sisters, he recalls the joys of a lively, loving home.
“While I am the only child of my parents, my mother still resides in our hometown, and her presence continues to be a source of comfort and support,” he says.
During his youth, Fr. Henry worked as an apprentice in his father’s carpentry shop, learning the art of woodworking and honing his skills in carpentry. He also worked as an apprentice in an auto mechanic shop, learning and experiencing the field of automotive repairs.
After completing his schooling, he enrolled in the national university where he pursued studies in philology and communications. During this time, he also attended the Catholic University Redemptoris Mater, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2002. Following his studies, Fr. Henry was ordained as a priest in 2010 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland, Ore.
“Since then, I have dedicated myself to a life of ministry, serving in various multilingual and multiethnic parishes,” he says. “As a priest, I have had the privilege of being a chaplain in hospitals, offering solace and support to those in need. Additionally, I have worked as a counselor, providing guidance and compassion to individuals navigating life’s challenges.”
Throughout his ministry, Fr. Henry has been involved in a variety of different kinds of ministries, apostolates, and movements within the Church.
“These experiences have allowed me to connect with people from different walks of life, fostering a deep appreciation for the beauty of diversity and the power of unity,” Fr. Henry says. “Overall, my journey from Masaya to becoming a priest has been shaped by my Nicaraguan roots, my pursuit of education, and my unwavering commitment to serving others. I am grateful for the experiences that have shaped me and look forward to continuing my ministry with compassion, empathy, and a deep sense of purpose.”
Fr. Henry also reflects upon hearing the call to the priesthood during his early 20s while living in Nicaragua.
“It was a profound moment of clarity and conviction, where I felt God’s gentle invitation to dedicate my life to Him and His Church,” he says. “However, I continued to reflect on my calling, considering the possibility of marriage. Over time, I realized that my skills and talents could be best utilized in the service of God and His Church. This led me to pursue studies in philosophy and theology, with the intention of preparing myself to serve in a Catechism Center. This opportunity solidified my decision, and I switched concentrations, enrolling in my country’s Catholic university to pursue my studies.”
Fr. Henry’s call to the priesthood was confirmed at a vocational retreat in Managua, where he had the opportunity to discern in a prayerful and supportive environment.
“Through the retreat, I was able to confirm that the priesthood was indeed my right call and vocation,” he says. “I am grateful for the vocational retreat in Managua, Nicaragua, which played a pivotal role in my first discernment process. I am also grateful to the formator teams and professionals who guided and supported me along the way. I am now more confident than ever that the priesthood was my true calling, and I am happy to be a priest.”
As a priest, Fr. Henry enjoys being able to journey with people in their faith. He considers it a privilege to be present in people’s lives during moments of joy, sorrow, and spiritual growth.
“I find great fulfillment in celebrating the sacraments, offering guidance and support, and witnessing the transformative power of God’s grace in the lives of others,” he says.
Fr. Henry hopes to serve the parishioners of St. Michael as a compassionate and approachable presence in their lives. He desires to actively listen to their needs, concerns, and joys while providing pastoral care and support to all.
“Additionally, I hope to foster opportunities for community building, encouraging parishioners to connect with one another, form meaningful relationships, and support each other on their faith journeys,” Fr. Henry says. “Ultimately, my goal is to help the parishioners of St. Michael encounter God’s love and mercy, and to empower them to live out their faith in their daily lives.”
Outside of parish life, Fr. Henry has a diverse range of interests and hobbies, including outdoor recreation, movies, travel, reading, and music.
We welcome Fr. Henry into our parish ʻohana and look forward to his ministry here at St. Michael.
Photos from the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 2023
Courtesy of Catholic Stewardship Consultants
Dec/Jan 2024 Newsletter