SAN FRANCISCO – Filipinos have been active parishioners of the Archdiocese of San Francisco for over a hundred years now. And a big source of pride for the community is that for the first time in history, a Filipino has been elected parish priest of San Francisco’s famous St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Fr. Art Albano now shares the highest-ranking position for a Filipino in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, along with vicar for clergy, Father Ray Reyes.
“I know I have a big responsibility for me not only as a pastor but I carry with me the Filipino faith, the Filipino spirit,” said Fr. Albano.
Fr. Albano said he was influenced to go into priesthood by seminarians in his hometown of Dingras, Ilocos Norte, as well as by his parents who were active church leaders.
He was ordained in the Philippines in 1974 before coming to the United States in 1979. He served in various churches all over the San Francisco Bay Area and was pastor of Mission Dolores Basilica when he celebrated his 40th year as a priest. In fact, he was already thinking about retirement.
“Then I got this call from the Archbishop this February — a big surprise,” he shared. “I was dumbfounded at first. I did not know how to respond.”
But he took on the challenge from Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and he was officially installed as parish priest of St. Mary’s Cathedral on August 8. St. Mary’s Cathedral is the principal church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Fr. Albano’s sister, Ester Albano-Garcia remarked, “We are very pleased that he is now serving in this capacity in such a beautiful cathedral.”
“Our family has always been in community service so I knew he would do well in this chosen profession,” added Jose Albano, his brother.
Community leader and parishioner Gloria Navarette expressed, “He deserves it. He is very educated. Just consider his eloquence. He knows different languages, very knowledgeable, very intelligent. What else can you expect from him – the best!”
But Fr. Albano’s appointment comes at a time when the Archdiocese of San Francisco has faced some backlash. A small but vocal group has started a campaign to get Pope Francis to replace Archbishop Cordileone because of his controversial stances against issues like same-sex marriage.
Fr. Albano, however, defended the archbishop, saying he only follows the teachings of the church.
And besides, he pointed out, it was Archbishop Cordileone who took that step to recognize the Filipinos’ contributions to the church through his appointment as parish priest of St. Mary’s Cathedral. He said, “It took this long, but we have arrived.”
Fr. Albano is confident that moving forward, the Filipinos’ presence in church will only continue to grow.
He concluded, “The faith of the Filipinos is really authentic. It’s deep rooted. It’s in our veins. It’s in our hearts.”
You may contact Henni Espinosa at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.