The Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province celebrated the ordination to the priesthood of Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, on Saturday, July 28 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Most Reverend Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM, Archbishop of San Juan, presided at the ordination at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, the Jesuit Parish in San Juan.
Father Barreto is the fifth member of this province ordained to the priesthood this summer. W. Penn Dawson, Jason C. LaLonde, Michael J. Wegenka and David C. Paternostro were ordained Saturday, June 9, in St. Louis.
This is the first Jesuit celebration of the rite of ordination in Puerto Rico since the island became part of the USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province in December 2014. Father Barreto is from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and entered the Society of Jesus when Puerto Rico was an independent region. He is now a member of the UCS Province.
Father Barreto has been assigned to serve for the next year as parochial vicar at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, where he was ordained and said his first Mass on Sunday, July 29. The parish, its school and the adjacent Colegio San Ignacio were all hard hit by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. This ordination offered the opportunity to celebrate God's goodness and generosity.
Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM, Archbishop of San Juan, anoints the hands of Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, during his ordination July 28, 2018.
After earning bachelor’s degrees in finance and actuarial science in 2001, Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Atlanta for one year and for Cigna Healthcare in Hartford, Conn., for three years. Intrigued by the Society of Jesus, he contacted the Jesuits, and in 2004 he entered the novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
Subsequent studies in Spain led to a Licentiate in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of Salamanca and a graduate degree in Ignatian spirituality from Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid. For the next two years, Barreto taught computer science and helped with Ignatian formation for new teachers at Colegio San Ignacio, the Jesuit high school in San Juan, and also taught confirmation classes at the adjacent St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, where he was ordained.
He then studied Chinese for two years at Chinese Culture University and the Maryknoll Fathers’ language school in Taipei, Taiwan, before beginning his theology studies at the Fu Jen Faculty of Theology of St. Robert Bellarmine. After a year of theology in Taiwan, Barreto was missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity degree in May 2018.
While at Berkeley, he served as a deacon in multiple communities: at St. Patrick Parish in Oakland, at San Quentin State Prison, with a local Chinese Catholic community, and at St. Elias Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church in Los Gatos, California.