|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
native, UCSC grad returns as a priest
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.
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
engineer and technical writer for Borland International and Novell.
|The Rev. Nikola Derpich is greeted after Mass on Tuesday by Slavica Zalac, parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Watsonville.|
"I followed the usual track," he said, looking for
"good, challenging work and good pay."
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
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.
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
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
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
"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
Contact Mona Moraru at 429-2436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.