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Newly Ordained Father Derpich, LC Featured in Santa Cruz Newspaper
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The Rev. Nikola Derpich, ordained in 2006 as a Catholic priest at the Vatican, administers communion to Gerrie Ridgeway during Mass Tuesday at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Watsonville
The Rev. Nikola Derpich, ordained in 2006 as a Catholic priest at the Vatican, administers communion to Gerrie Ridgeway during Mass Tuesday at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Watsonville.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel recently published a story about the home visit of Father Nikola Derpich,LC,  a Watsonville native, who was just ordained a priest this past December 8, 2007 in Rome by his second cousin, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. While visiting his family in Watsonville, CA, Fr Derpich celebrated Mass in the same church where he had served as an altar boy during his youth. The complete article is posted below with permission from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/story.php?storySection=Local&sid=65150

Watsonville native, UCSC grad returns as a priest

Mona Moraru
Sentinel correspondent
January 24, 2008

Father Nikola Derpich, a Watsonville native, returned to Rome on Wednesday after his first visit home in two years.

While home, the 40-year-old led Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church and St. Patrick´s Catholic Church, both in Watsonville.

Growing up, Derpich lived near St. Patrick´s, where he, the second of four boys, served eight years as an altar boy.

"They could always count on the Derpich boys," he remembered, smiling.

Leading Mass decades later in the church was "surreal," Derpich said. Surrounded by family and friends, "this is the culmination of the celebration of my ordination."

But Derpich did not take the typical path from his days as an altar boy to the seminary. Instead, he earned bachelor´s degrees in computer and information sciences and literature with an emphasis on creative writing from UC Santa Cruz.

After graduation, Derpich worked as a technical support
The Rev. Nikola Derpich is greeted after Mass on Tuesday by Slavica Zalac, parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Watsonville
The Rev. Nikola Derpich is greeted after Mass on Tuesday by Slavica Zalac, parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Watsonville.
engineer and technical writer for Borland International and Novell.

"I followed the usual track," he said, looking for "good, challenging work and good pay."

After seven and a half years, Derpich realized he had it; he had good, challenging work and good pay. But, he asked himself, "Is this what you want for the rest of your life?"

All the while, Derpich said he had been thinking about the priesthood. His parents, Peter Derpich, who died in 1998, and Emila Nikola, who still lives in Watsonville, took their family to Mass every Sunday, "rain or shine," a tradition that Derpich continued "even in that time of uncertainty."

Sitting once again on his mother´s couch, Derpich asserted earlier this week, "There´s no substitute for the support of a strong, solid family in any walk of life."

Derpich continued to get more involved with the church, joining a choir and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal benefits organization.

Although his mother remembers her son was always a little more religious than his brothers, "we thought he chose his life and that was it."

But Derpich´s mother noticed a change in her son.

"All the material things he had didn´t mean anything to him. It was beautiful to watch," she said.
In church on Sept. 7, 1996, Christ "popped the question," Derpich said. "I really felt he was extending the invitation and I was accepting the invitation."

Derpich studied in Connecticut, Atlanta and later in Rome, where he is now finishing his master´s degree in theology at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University´s School of Bioethics.

He was ordained a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, a Catholic religious congregation, by his second cousin, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, on Dec. 8, 2006, in Rome.

"I never doubted that Christ wanted me to be a Legionary of Christ," Derpich said. "[There is] a beautiful moment when your plans mesh with God´s plans."

Once he completes his master´s, Derpich will be assigned by the Legionaries of Christ to one of their missionary communities in anywhere from San Jose to South Korea, Europe or South America.
"It´s just the beginning," Derpich said.
Contact Mona Moraru at 429-2436 or jcopeland@santacruzsentinel.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2008-02-26


 

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