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Two men ordained as priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

01 PAGE 6.22.17_ords.coverAlvin Yu and Michael Liliedahl process into St. Mary’s Cathedral on June 10 for their ordination to the priesthood. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)credit

June 22, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

God’s beckoning to the vocation of priest “always begins with an inner, mysterious and indescribable voice” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said in his homily at the priestly ordination of Alvin Yu and Michael Liliedahl at St. Mary’s Cathedral June 10.

“As with the prophets of old, so with those called to the priesthood. Each one has his own unique story of how that call happened. It is as if God has a tailor-made plan for each of those he calls,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “But no matter who he calls … it always begins with an inner, mysterious and indescribable voice, a sort of echoing voice – even nagging.”

“There is a call. For every prophet you read about in Scripture, indeed for anyone who is called to play a special role in salvation there is a call,” Archbishop Cordileone said, saying it is not the priest who chooses his vocation, but God who chooses him.

For Father Yu, 27, and Father Liliedahl, 35, their calling to the priesthood seemed a real possibility from the time they were quite young, relatives said in conversations after the Mass. And several days after their ordinations, the men were in awe of the gift they had received of holy orders.

“I have been reflecting on a line from Walker Percy’s essay ‘The Holiness of the Ordinary’: ‘... the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, whatever else they do, confer the highest significance on the ordinary things of this world, bread, wine, water, touch, breath, words, talking, listening ... ,”’ Father Liliedahl said.

“I feel much like those very ordinary things that God has chosen to confer significance upon and thus, like the bread and wine, must allow myself to be totally transformed so that I can bring God to the world,” said Father Liliedahl, who celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at his parish of St. Dominic. “For what am I but a very ordinary man but what greater, more significant, calling could I have? I just pray that I allow myself to be open to the grace to allow God to make me up to that significant task.”

“Overall, it has been a very humbling experience,” said Father Yu, who celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where fellow Sacred Heart High School alumnus and former archdiocesan vocations director Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly delivered the homily. “There has been such a great outpouring of prayers and support. So many people have come from all over to attend the ordination festivities.

“There is also the feeling of unworthiness, the wonder as to why God has called me, a sinner,” Father Yu said. “But yet he has called me. I know there are going to be a lot of challenges, and a couple of days into my priesthood, there has already been a few. But I offer them up patiently and trust that God will be there to help me.”

For their families, the ordination of Father Yu and Father Liliedahl was a natural development of a vocation that they saw in the two men from a very young age.

“I’m delighted. I’m overjoyed,” said Father Liliedahl’s father, Jody. “I’m sure that it is who he is and has been since the day he was conceived really.”

“We kind of knew he had the calling at a very young age,” said Father Yu’s brother Edgar, who like Father Yu grew up in San Francisco, attending Salesian grade school, Sts. Peter and Paul and then Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and San Francisco State University.

While their parents worked, the boys were watched by their grandmother Lupita Machuy, who has great faith, said Father Yu’s mother, Teresa. She was perhaps the biggest influence on Father Yu’s vocation, said Edgar Yu and Mrs. Yu. Mrs. Machuy’s now deceased brother was a Salesian priest in their home in Hong Kong and two of her sisters are Salesian sisters in Macau and Australia. Father Yu’s father Wing Tim Yu died in 2014.

“My knees are shaking,” said Father Liliedahl’s mother, Marcia, saying her son entered Bishop White Seminary in Spokane for one year directly after high school, but left, and then 10 years later returned to priestly formation. He graduated from Gonzaga University, obtained a master’s from Providence College and then taught on the East Coast and at Marin Catholic High School before entering St. Patrick’s Seminary & University.

“He did leave the seminary,” said Jody Liliedahl, “the whole better part of the decade that he stayed out of the seminary there was nothing to be gained by pushing him” even though in his heart Jody Liliedahl believed Michael probably had a priestly vocation.

Mrs. Liliedahl said she believes her son’s vocation can be traced to as early as kindergarten, when they lived in Minnesota and he would read at school Masses. It was nurtured by the gift of a thick children’s Bible from her sister to the second-grade Michael, as they left Oregon to drive back home to Alaska where the family lived for most of her three children’s childhoods. “He read that Bible all the way driving back to Juneau which is a three day drive; he finished it just as we were getting on the ferry. I think those things played a role,” Mrs. Liliedahl said.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone thanked all those who contributed to Father Liliedahl and Father Yu’s formation including family, priests, seminary professors, pastor-mentors, and “above all the parents. Thank you, parents,” he said. “Today is a day of joy as we celebrate the ordination to the priesthood of our brothers Michael and Alvin.”


03 PAGE prostration.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-33The ordinands lay prostrate before the altar, ritually symbolizing the dependence of the priestly office on God and the prayers of the Christian community.


03 PAGE being.blessed.before.ord.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-47Dominican Father Michael Hurley and Father David Schunk, archdiocesan vocations director, join brother priests of the archdiocese in the ritual of the laying on of hands. By this ritual the ordaining bishop and the other priests invoke the Holy Spirit to come down upon the one to be ordained, giving him a sacred character and setting him apart for the designated ministry.


20-21 PAGE yu.vesting.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-64Father Steve Howell and Msgr. John Talesfore assist Father Alvin Yu in vesting as a newly ordained priest.


20-21 PAGE liliedahl.vesting.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-67Father Moises Agudo and Father Thuan Hoang assist newly ordained Father Michael Liliedahl.


20-21 HALF nice.2.shot.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-59A stained-glass window forms the backdrop at St. Mary’s Cathedral as Alvin Yu and Michael Liliedahl pray before their priestly ordination.

20-21 HALF liliedahl.blessing.missionary.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-122Father Michael Liliedahl greets a Missionary of Charity.


20-21 HALF yu.communion.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-84Father Alvin Yu serves Communion.

20-21 PAGE Yu.Alvin.grandmotherLupita Machuy.bro.Edgar.momTeresaAlvin Yu is joined in a front pew by family members including his grandmother Lupita Machuy; brother Edgar; and mother Teresa.


20-21 PAGE liliedahl.fam.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-120Father Michael Liliedahl celebrates with his parents, Jody and Marcia.


20-21 PAGE 3shot.w.abc.ADSF2017_Priestly Ordinations-93Archbishop Cordileone poses with the newest priests of the archdiocese, Father Alvin Yu and Father Michael Liliedahl, after their ordination June 10 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

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