SALT LAKE CITY — Ordained February 22, 1992 at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Ogden by the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, seventh Bishop of Salt Lake City, Father Eugenio Yarce has since then been serving in Utah.
In those 20 years, "a lot of experiences have occurred and out of this, a big solid friendship chain has been built with the community," Fr. Yarce said.
Originally from Santa Rosa, Colombia, Fr. Yarce has created a second home in Utah. He attended a minor seminary in his native country then, like many priests of the diocese, he attended Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, and he has served in many parishes in Utah. "I don’t feel I am a foreigner anymore; I feel simply at home," he said.
His first priestly assignment was as parochial vicar of Saint Joseph Parish in Ogden, a position he also held at Sacred Heart Parish in Salt Lake City, Saint Marguerite Parish in Tooele, San Felipe Parish in Wendover, and Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish in Price. As pastor, he served Saint Bridget Parish in Milford and Saint John Bosco Parish in Delta for six years before returning to San Felipe. In 2009 he began his second term as pastor of Sacred Heart.
"I try to be with the community all the time," said Fr. Yarce. "The biggest riches that I have received from God is the priesthood. I really like what I do."
When parishioners ask why and how he keeps going, he simply responds, "because I love what I do. Even today I have the same joy and excitement as when I was starting my life as a priest."
Fr. Yarce came to Utah through an invitation from Father Francisco Gómez, then a Diocese of Salt Lake City priest.
At the time of the invitation, Fr. Yarce was a seminarian in Santa Rosa, Colombia.
After talking to Father Gómez, Fr. Yarce and six other seminarians applied for visas to the United States. They were rejected, but kept trying for four days until a lady helped them get their visas in just one day.
"I was directing the vocational group at that time," said Fr. Yarce. "After all the paperwork, we arrived in Miami and after that, in Utah."
His journey in Utah has included many people, many places, many experiences, and many joys. He remembers especially the time that he spent in the missions of southern Utah, where he celebrated Masses in the country. He would take his Bible to people’s houses, spreading the word.
"We used to celebrate Mass in the fields, and when the community grew, we used to gather at people’s houses," said Fr. Yarce.
Wendover also has many memories for him.
"All the molders of the parish (San Felipe) were painted by the kids from the community," he said. "I gave them two jars, one with red paint and another with gold paint and some brushes…. They all laid on the floor and painted."
Although he is especially grateful to Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus of the diocese, for his guidance, "from all I have learned a lot: from the community, from my fellow priests, from everyone," Fr. Yarce said.
"Father Yarce is wonderful," said Maria Santillana, a parishioner and office worker at Sacred Heart Parish. "It is very nice to have someone that listens to you, that has sensitivity, and Fr. Yarce gives us that. People from Wendover, from Heber, from different cities come here to visit Fr. Yarce."
"My ministry is beautiful, being a priest is a very special treasure," Fr. Yarce said. "I believe when you do what you love to do, you are always happy and you can project that."