By Emily Drooby
They went from students to priests. Father Joseph Dutan and Father Jose Diaz are back at St. John’s Prep.
Father Dutan said “I enjoyed my time here. It was an amazing 4 years, all my memories are still intact being here, nothing has changed.” Father Diaz said returning to the school “just brings back so many memories: from friendships, everything that happened here in the school. It was a great time in my life, I’m very thankful.”
The recently ordained priests are celebrating a Lenten mass at their alma mater. School principal William Higgins called the visit thrilling, saying “it’s really carrying out the mission of St. John’s Prep and we are very, very proud of them.”
Father Dutan was the main celebrant and Father Diaz gave the homily. His use of references to rap artists and pop culture went over well with students, like Omar Hagar who said of the mass “I loved it! I think he’s like the goal, I really loved it.”
Father Dutan hopes the visit will inspire the students. “It shows them that normal people are priests,” Father Dutan said, “It shows them that you can be something in life. It gives them more reason to continue, it gives them more reason to fight the good fight and realize that God is with them and that God is not leaving them alone.”
That inspiration motivated the future priest back when he walked these halls. “St Johns Prep was a big part of my formation,” Father Dutan explained, “Some of the teachers because I opened to one or two of the teachers and they just told me, I’ll keep you in prayers.”
Father Diaz was also inspired to join the priesthood while he was at Saint John’s, especially after receiving a letter from a senior year classmate which led him to seriously think about his vocation. It’s been years since they sat in these seats but for a brief moment, Father Diaz and Father Dutan were back with the people who helped form them into the faithful leaders they are today.