Never underestimate the power of every individual’s role in the liturgy.

It’s what jumpstarted the faith life for the newest priest in the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor’s St. Barbara Province which serves Arizona and the west coast states. Hundreds of Arizona Catholics, largely from the Diocese of Phoenix, packed Our Lady of the Angels Conventual Church at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale Dec. 3 for the Ordination Mass of Fr. Sam Nasada.

They wouldn’t have had a chance to meet him if faithful in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles hadn’t paved the way for his religious vocation. Fr. Sam grew up Catholic in Indonesia, came to the U.S. in 1997 to finish an engineering degree and ultimately ended up in Los Angeles. Fr. Sam credited an Indonesian Catholic young adult group there with nurturing his vocation as well as the nearby Church of St. Denis.

“I loved how the liturgy was done so well there. It jumpstarted my faith life,” Fr. Sam said a week before his Ordination. He noted that the music was good, the homilies engaging and all liturgical ministers did their jobs well to make people feel welcome.

He became involved in multicultural liturgies and ultimately encountered a Franciscan liturgist as a result. That Franciscan ended up inviting Fr. Sam on a road trip that included stops at several California missions.

“Just from that very human level of welcoming me warmly and treating me like someone they knew for a long time” spoke to Fr. Sam’s heart. In time he learned more about St. Francis, St. Clare and Franciscan traditions and spirituality.

“I felt like it was something deep inside I already believed in but never knew how to articulate it or find words for it. It felt natural for me,” Fr. Sam said. He didn’t get that same feeling when discerning diocesan priesthood or the Jesuitsthe only other religious community he knew, thanks to his high school days.

Fr. Budi Wardhana saw the Franciscan life as natural for Fr. Sam. He described his friend from that Indonesian Catholic young adult groupand distant cousin by marriageas someone who embraces simplicity. He also described Fr. Sam as a people person and someone with the gift of music and liturgy.

Fr. Sam wove symbolic songs into his Ordination Mass. “To Follow You” was inspired by the words and life of St. Francis of Assisi and “The Cross of Love” used during the preparation of the gifts was co-written by a Franciscan Brother he met early on during his discernment. After Communion, the choir sang “Song of Praise” based on Psalm 23 in Indonesian. Fr. Sam passionately sang along.

“We owe a deep debt of gratitude in Arizona to the Franciscans. They evangelized us,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said in closing remarks during Mass. “I’m so grateful for the ways you continue to witness to us.”