|Archbishop Eterovic lays his hands on Nikola Derpich|
Rome, December 8 -- Nikola Derpich, a native from Watsonville,
CA, was ordained a priest of the Legionaries of
Christ on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony
took place at the chapel of the Legion’s Center for
Higher Studies in Rome.
Presiding was Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary
of the Synod of Bishops and Fr. Nikola’s second cousin.
Fifty five priests, most of them legionaries of Christ, concelebrated
with Archbishop Eterovic and the newly ordained priest. Fr. Derpich’s
family and about 400 legionaries of Christ who study in
Rome accompanied Fr. Derpich.
In his homily, the Archbishop stressed
how God always takes the first step when calling somebody
to follow Him and how Mary is a great example
of generous response to God’s call. Archbishop Eterovic referred to
the fact that Fr. Nikola heard the call, years ago,
on the very feast of the Nativity of Mary. He
directed some words in English for those relatives who came
from the States, and he also spoke for a while
in Croatian, since the roots of the family come from
On December 23, another 55 legionaries of Christ will be
ordained by Cardinal Franc Rodé at St. Mary Major’s Basilica
in Rome. They come from ten different countries: United States,
Canada, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela.
Derpich, 39, was born in Watsonville, California, where he lived
all his life before becoming a Legionary. As a child
he went Mass at St. Patrick’s Church (in the diocese
of Monterey), and later attended Our Lady Help of Christians
parish, then under diocesan direction, but now directed by the
Salesians of Don Bosco. He gives credit to family, the
Knights of Columbus and a nagging vocational call for bringing
him to the priesthood.
|A moment of the ordination|
He went to elementary school
at Moreland Notre Dame School, directed by the Sisters of
Notre Dame de Namur, and later attended Watsonville Union High
School, where he graduated in the top ten percent of
his class, was a member of the California Scholarship Federation,
wrote for the Pippin (a literary gazette for creative writing
students), and was involved in the Chess and Computer Clubs
His first college studies were at the University of
California, Santa Cruz, where he graduated with a double B.A.
in Computer and Information Sciences, and Literature with an Emphasis
on Creative Writing. He later worked as a technical support
engineer and technical writer for Borland International and Novell.
1994, feeling God was calling him to give back some
of what he received, he joined a choir, and became
an active member of the Knights of Columbus, helping to
found a local council in the summer of 1996.
|Fr. Nikola Derpich, LC blesses a family who assisted at his ordination|
the Knights who got me praying the rosary again and
singing Gregorian Chant in the Choir. I started taking my
faith more seriously,” Fr. Nikola said.
Throughout his life,
God was preparing to “pop the question,” Fr. Nikola said.
“I had engaging work, good pay, everything I wanted, and
yet I asked myself, ‘is this going to be the
rest of my life’?”
A lifelong invitation to become a
priest suddenly snapped into clarity. After a few months of
prayer and discernment, he decided to put his affairs into
order and enter the Legionary candidacy program in the summer
“One of the candidates teased me about bringing
so much luggage. Most of them were still deciding whether
to enter the novitiate or not,” Fr. Nikola said. “I
had already decided. I’d decided before I even came. Those
bags held everything I owned, which wasn’t much. The rest
went to St. Vincent de Paul and my family.”
and completing two years of novitiate, Fr. Nikola went to
Rome and received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
appreciate philosophy until I went out on internship [a two
to three year period where
|Archbishop Eterovic and the new priest|
a Legionary brother takes a
break in his studies to work fulltime in a Legionary
apostolate] and was traveling around the southeast working with youth.
Then I realized everything I was receiving was to give
to others. In airports, in boys camps, in gas stations,
wherever I wore the collar, which was practically everywhere.”
philosophy studies and internship under his belt, Fr. Nikola returned
to Rome and received his Bachelor’s in theology.
His parents are
Peter Derpich, deceased restaurateur, and Emila Nikola, who works for
the public school district.