By MIKE VULPO     5/7/2024

Before the sun would even begin to rise, St. Kilian pastor Fr. Angelos Sebastian, who also serves as the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Orange, fondly remembers his mom, Gracy Sebastian, starting her day off with God.

“She would wake up at four or 4:30 in the morning to pray,” he shared with OC Catholic. “That’s my earliest memory even as a kid. Early in the morning, my mom would wake up to pray the rosary. Then she would start cooking for everybody and then she had to go to work.”

Born and raised in India, Fr. Angelos admitted that his parents were very poor and worked tirelessly to support their children. But through life’s trials and tribulations, they always trusted in their relationship with God.

“What kept them together was their faith in the Lord,” he said. “They also had tremendous love for our Blessed Mother.”

That care and affection was passed on to Fr. Angelos from a very young age. At just one month and eight days old, he was baptized into the Catholic Church. The sacrament proved to be an impactful moment for his journey into the priesthood.

While he was born with the name Joseph, the priest who performed his baptism was named Angelos and said he wanted to “keep my name for this child.”

“Those days, what the priest said was like God telling you something,” Fr. Angelos said. “So, my parents were more than happy to keep the name Angelos for me. And then after my baptism, the priest told my parents that he had a strong feeling that this child would become a priest. My parents were so happy because they were so religious. They wanted at least one of their children to be a priest.”

After receiving a special message from their priest, Fr. Angelos’ parents kept nurturing the vocation and told their son he was destined for a life of vocation. In 2001, he was ordained for the Diocese of Ajmer before coming to the Orange Diocese in 2007. “I grew up hearing my parents and my family always telling me that you have a heart for priesthood,” he said.

“It was easy for me because I didn’t have any struggle or anything as to what I was going to become. I always knew I was going to be a priest. God made it so easy for me. My parents — especially my mom — always supported me. From the time I can remember, we always prayed for all the priests, and she was praying for me that I will always answer God’s call.”

While some mothers may struggle to pass their faith and love of Jesus onto their children, Fr. Angelos said he naturally grew more and more curious after noticing a change in his mom after Communion.

“Sunday Mass was always so important for all of us,” he recalled. “After communion, when my mom would go back to her place to pray, she was a totally different person. I could see it in her face. She was in union with the Lord. After receiving the Lord, being one with the Lord changed her personality, her facial expression, everything.”

As a result, Fr. Angelos said he was “eager to know what was happening to her and I wanted to find out that for myself.”

“I wanted to experience the same,” he continued. “I wanted to experience the Lord and have that deeper union. That’s one moment I can remember where my mom tremendously inspired me to have that personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.”

Although Gracy passed away more than four years ago, Fr. Angelos has no doubt that she remains proud of his work in the Diocese of Orange.

“My mom is absolutely proud of me,” he reflected. “She’s always proud of me. She’s especially proud of me because I’m doing God’s work. There is nothing else that would give her greater joy than me doing God’s work. My mom from Heaven is rejoicing that God is using my life to bring thousands and thousands of people to the Lord.”

With Mother’s Day weekend here, Fr. Angelos wants to celebrate his mom and all mother figures who are sharing God’s love with children. From his perspective, there’s nothing stronger than a bond between the mother and the child.

“How the mother gives, how the child sees the mother making sacrifices, how the mother is devoted to the Lord, how the mother turns to the Lord in times of need or all the time trusting in the Lord…that has such a great impact in the life of a child,” he said. “The child learns that, and I know that’s how I learned my faith. That’s why the mother has the single most influence in the life of a child, especially in the faith life of a child.”