God kept nagging me says NZ’s youngest priest


Alister Castillo, 27, who is thought to be the youngest priest in New Zealand says God is a “nagger”.

“It’s that very annoying nagging that’s kind of like when your parents are telling you to do the dishes, ” he told Stuff.co.nz

Castello, who describes himself as “a born and bred Cantabrian”, completed his secondary school studies at St Bede’s College in 2008.

In 2009, while studying part-time for a Bachelor of Music at the University of Canterbury, he worked for the Catholic Youth Team for a short time.

No matter how often he dismissed it, he said the thought kept creeping back into his mind throughout that year.

“I thought no-one in their right mind would want to be a Catholic priest in this day and age.”

“At the end of that year . . . filling out the paper work for the next year’s courses didn’t feel right. It was a very uneasy feeling.

“That’s when I thought to myself ‘let’s go do something about this thought of priesthood’.”

Castello was ordained last month in Christchurch, along with Graeme Blackburn, 33, and Huynh Tran, 31.

A recent report in Stuff described the path to the priesthood each of these men followed.

Blackburn said priesthood was “quite a foreign concept” to friends when he told them about his decision about seven years ago.

“The people who you get on with really well, they might struggle to see why you’ve picked this lifestyle because it is quite a lifestyle,” he said.

But all were supportive of his choice and he had become closer to many of them, he said.

While numbers were declining in New Zealand, in Vietnam seminaries are having to turn people away.

That was how his confrere Tran found his way into the priesthood in Christchurch.

Bishop Barry Jones invited Tran to come to New Zealand about nine years ago to learn English before going to the seminary.


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