I was born in January 1967 in San Leandro and raised there, attending local public schools before entering Bishop O'Dowd High School and graduating in 1985. My father's family name (Amaral) is Portuguese but my mother's side of the family (Engstrom) is Swedish/Norwegian. Needless to say, my family heritage covers both sides of Europe! After high school I attended Sonoma State University and then the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where I earned my BA and MA in political science respectively. My initial career plan was to complete my doctorate and pursue a path in teaching. The Lord, though, had other plans for me.
After returning to Bay Area in 1992, I worked for a few years with the family business in San Leandro, paid off my student loans and began to re-establish myself with a local parish. I grew up at Assumption Parish in San Leandro but after returning from Tennessee, I became acquainted with St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland. It was there that I first met Fr. Paul Schmidt, Fr. William Marshall and Fr. George Sullivan. All three of them became instrumental in my discernment to enter the seminary and later be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Oakland. This was not the first time that I thought I had a vocation. Back in high school I had prayed over entering the religious order that administered Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland. After graduate school and with a little more maturity, I decided to take a "leap of faith" and follow where I knew the Lord was calling me. I admired the examples of the priests that assisted at St. Margaret Mary's and sought their counsel. After praying over it, I decided to apply and eventually entered the seminary in 1998. After six wonderful years at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, I was ordained by Bishop Allen Vigneron at St. Elizabeth Parish, Oakland in May of 2004. I was the first priest he ordained as our new bishop in Oakland.
My priesthood thus far has been truly an adventure. My first assignment was at Holy Spirit in Fremont. I then had two short assignments at St. Philip Neri/St. Albert Parishes in Alameda and then the Catholic Community of Pleasanton before coming to St. Joseph. The priesthood is essentially an act of faith of the Holy Spirit at work in my life. I am grateful for any gifts that God has given me to share with you and pray that my time here at St. Joseph's will be both a time of grace for each of us and an aid in the fulfillment of Christ's call for us to be his authentic disciples in the world.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 February 2009 23:24