1974 Fall, I moved to a a Benedictine monastery- 1975, September 14, I was baptized a Roman Catholic Christian there by a Chinese priest whose father had become a Buddhist hermit after raising his family in Indonesia. ‘Beyond any fatuous semantic or practice- common in institutional self-development and promotion- there is a core of religious experience and theory universally necessary to human completion and the integration of knowledge. The Church is well within the humanist venture of the last 2500 years. My interest has been an older perspective, now including the Church, as human culture turns from religion as necessary, to technology and commerce- with an eye to the knowledge of and preservation of the whole environment of perception.’ (Paean’s Song, 2013) -The Church’s traditions include everything necessary for a full religious experience.
1984- I was ordained to the Priesthood with my class, Vigil of Pentecost. I was the first seminarian to be elected twice by the student body to the policy making faculty committee, The General Seminary Committee, as it was then known. While at the seminary. I was exposed to a circle of world-class theologians with representatives at the University of California nearby.
1984-86 Along with the usual duties of a parish priest, I painted a 40 ft mural on the back of the church building where I was assigned, and organized the 100-year anniversary of that parish. Summer 1986, I was given a leave of absence “to cool” off after a difference of opinion with the pastor in which our significant range of virtues were not the problem.
1986- Summer. My family’s ranch home burns. My father dies. My Bishop dies. I am ‘cooling’ in Spain in the home of one of the world’s top theologians and intellectuals not far from Montserrat. I was offered a position there that would have potentially opened to me the doors of highest art and intellectual culture in Europe- a great boon for either an artistic or academic career. At the same time, I received a letter from the Chancellor of the Diocese of Orange strongly recommending, since the Bishop had died, I should return home. After some challenging discernment, I returned to the Diocese. (This was the second time I passed up such an offer as above in favor of my role in the Church.) 1986- Fall. After my father’s funeral, I was assigned by the Personnel Board to work under a Pastor with a remarkable reputation. No Associate Pastor had ever stayed a full assignment with him. All had asked to be moved. When I first heard the assignment, I was shocked. But I took the assignment as a challenge and vowed privately to be quiet for a time, to be the good priest I sincerely intended to be. I am grateful to him because the overall situation caused me to write a letter to the new Bishop explaining what I thought were the problems with certain ecclesial forms and my own dysfunction within such- not about that pastor. A copy of this letter was caused to be placed in a Vatican archive by Rev. Dr. R. Panikkar- Peritus at Vatican II and world famous Catholic scholar- due to its clear presentation of a dangerous situation for the Church. My determination to stay in that assigned parish was not enough to withstand the experience. I was once again granted a leave of absence- to pursue a Ph.D. in Berkeley, if I paid for it myself. Regrettably, my faculties were removed, “until I got settled in my new situation.” ‘If any other bishop wanted to ‘pick me up’ the new Bishop of Orange would not stand in the way,’ he said. I was encouraged by this attitude and left the Bishop’s office relieved.
1987- 1988 Leaving the Diocese of Orange without financial support, I took a year’s Artist-in-Residence position offered to me by an Episcopal church, while I applied to Berkeley.
1988– I was accepted by the UCB Graduate School to pursue a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. The mural mentioned above gained national attention.
1995- I was awarded a Doctoral hood after grueling studies, nearly endless academic hoops and three 3-month trips to India for field research and two months in Korea observing a particular kind of religious activity common in traditional agrarian cultures pertinent to my studies. This also included 2 years on the Navajo and Zuni reservations.
I worked during those 7 years of doctoral studies as Chaplain for the English language program at the East Bay Korean Catholic Pastoral Center with full faculties from the Diocese of Oakland. I worked under two wonderful pastors those 7 years with whom I had excellent relationships and from whom I learned so much about pastoral ministry. Though generally, I was in charge of my English language ministry- which extended from Kinder Garden through College programs. After graduation, I took a position in the Diocese of Santa Rosa as Newman Chaplain at Sonoma State University.
1995-2000 We founded this Newman Center- built it up as I taught for 4 years in the SSU Philosophy Department. We had many regular activities for students including retreats, prayer meetings, Scripture and Religion classes as well as regular liturgies. There should be letters in my file from both the Vicar General of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Monsignor Pulskamp and then-Archbishop, now-Cardinal LeVada commenting upon the success of this Newman program.
1999 After 5 years as Newman Chaplain, my health began to fail. I hit a wall health-wise. By the year 2000, shopping for groceries for my 80 year old mother and myself would exhaust me for the day. I was plagued by hard to control blood pressure and migraines. Seven painful, twilight years later I was diagnosed and did a sleep study in Georgia. The medical staff said that it was the worse case of apnea and various sleep disorders that they had seen in ten years at that clinic.
-When the innocent Bishop of Santa Rosa was forced to resign in 1999 amidst a financial crisis there, all externs were told to return to their home dioceses. Neither my physical health nor my emotional nor mental state allowed me to respond to the generous offer of the Bishop of Orange to take an assignment at that time.
2008 My mother died in November of 2005. Subsequently, I moved to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, New Mexico. After two years of monastic peace, in 2010 my health improved, then, plateaued. I still accomplish things, slowly. For instance, in 2010 the University of California published an electronic archive of my life’s work. I can accomplish things working around the symptoms of my disability, bit by bit daily.
2012 I’m exploring new therapies with new doctors. When I am feeling well, it’s as if I was fine all the time. That’s when people see me. I am hopeful that these new therapies will help what is largely a private hell. I do feel a new mental acuity and control of some greater portion of my life. I am hopeful that I will once again be more fully of service.