Arnaldo Santos

Date of Ordination: May 21, 2011
Current Assignment: Parish of the Holy Cross, Bridgeton

As a former civil servant and newly retired police detective, I had always felt the call to help lost souls who long for someone to understand them.

Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio called for a new evangelization, a new mission work to those who know about God and His mercy, even if they are not fully engaged in their faith. As an active Catholic, I learned different ways to evangelize through retreats, to reach out to separated brothers and sisters, to help and guide youth, and to reach out to gang members. Yes, I said gang members.

I have seen individuals lost to the gang world return to the church, repent, receive the sacraments and be freed from the bondage of the gang world. It happened when I was able to guide them with prayer, patience, moderation and brotherly love. As a police detective I was respected, but the advice that I gave troubled youth was not as easily accepted. As an officer, I was judged by the persons feeling condemned. They felt I couldn’t possibly understand or sympathize with them.

However, ordination changed my life. I have a new sense of security as I see myself becoming a more devout Christian and servant. Not that the ongoing journey is without challenge. The main challenge I have faced is working with under-catechized or poorly catechized Catholics. I seek to re-introduce Christ all over again to them. Many think that the word of God doesn’t speak to them. I also find I must focus on the fundamentals of the church and preach the truth without sugarcoating it. As a servant of the Lord, I face these challenges head on and pray as much as I work to help bring back the lost sheep and to help those still in the church come to a full understanding and love of God.