TOOELE — On Dec. 14, Father Rafael A. Murillo Ventura celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Fr. Murillo was ordained a priest on Dec. 14, 1996 in his hometown by the Most Reverend Monsignor Jose Oscar Barahona Castillo, of the Diocese of San Vicente, El Salvador.
“One of the biggest incentives that I have is to feel that one can help; that we can serve and be part of a very extensive family,” said Fr. Murillo, who entered the seminary when he was 18 years old.
His family supported his vocation even when they felt a mixture of joy and sadness after he told them of his wishes.
After he was ordained a priest, his first assignment was in Tilobasco Cabañas, El Salvador, where he stayed for about 15 months. After that, he went to Rome to complete a higher degree in theological studies at the Gregorian Pontifical University; he holds a licencia (the equivalent of a master’s degree) in theology.
After finishing his studies, Fr. Murillo spent a short time in the Archdiocese of Baltimore before returning to El Salvador.
The invitation to minister in Salt Lake City came through his fellow priest friends from El Salvador who are serving in Utah. In 2013, Fr. Murillo accepted his first local assignment, serving as temporary parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kearns. He then was sent to be the administrator of St. Elizabeth Parish in Richfield, an assignment that was meant to be temporary but became permanent. Then, in 2015, he was appointed pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish in Carbon County. In 2019 he began serving as administrator of St. Marguerite Parish in Tooele, the position that he currently holds.
“These past 25 years as a priest have been a blessing,” said Fr. Murillo, who speaks English, Spanish and Italian.
“In these 25 years there is a lot to be grateful for: first to God for his call, which I don’t deserve; everything is through his grace,” Fr. Murillo said.
He also expressed gratitude to his parents, to Bishop Barahona Castillo, to his friends, and partners through his life’s journey. “They have all been part in this project of God,” he said.
The saying “the school of life” is a good one, Fr. Murillo said. “Here is where we learn from the good and not-so-good experiences. … Through life is how we grow and develop new experiences.”
During his priesthood journey, Fr. Murillo has come to realize that a priest is an instrument to serve. “This is the meaning of the call,” he said. “Our enthusiasm and energy to keep serving comes from the people of God and their support; it also relies on the power of prayer.”
Feeling at peace with himself and with God “is without doubt the strongest point of their support,” he added.
The gratitude that he felt at the beginning of his priesthood journey keeps increasing with time, he said.
“Nobody deserves anything from God; everything happens through his grace. He is our all because whoever has him has everything,” he said.
During the eight years he has served in the diocese, he has continually been supported by the bishop and the people here, for which he is grateful, he said.
“I put myself in the intercession of our Holy Mother and Saint Joseph,” he said.
To celebrate his anniversary, his parish community surprised him on Dec. 14 with the ‘Mañanitas’ (the traditional Hispanic birthday song) played by a mariachi band.