FR. MARK GUZMAN
Fr. Mark has been the pastor of our parish since 2014, and we are very grateful for his sincere faith, charity, sense of humor, and leadership. Learn a little more about him here!
Where were you raised and educated?
I was born and raised in Michigan. I began my priestly formation at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, then I took a break for a while and worked for a few years before I felt God calling me to return to seminary. I finished my formation at St. Patrick’s seminary Menlo Park, California, and was ordained by Archbishop Alexander Brunett at St. James Cathedral on June 7th, 2008.
What parishes have you served during your priestly ministry?
I have been assigned to St. Michael’s Parish in Olympia, St. Mary’s Parish in Marysville and its mission church, St. Ann’s in Tulalip, and St. Benedict’s Parish in Seattle.
Did you always feel called to the priesthood?
Yes. I always felt the call, even as a kid. Some guys go straight from high school into the seminary, and others go out into the world for a while, only to find later that God is still there, waiting for them. Many kids bury their feelings because they feel “different,” or they think that they can’t be “normal” if they become a priest, a brother, or a sister. Nothing is further from the truth. If you feel this way, I want you to know, you are not odd!
I always tell people that I was the least likely candidate for the priesthood. As a kid, I loved scary movies, I ate Captain Crunch, my mom called me a “brat” – because I was! I didn’t spend my childhood and teenage years quietly sitting in church with a halo above my head!
“I didn’t spend my childhood and teenage years quietly sitting in church with a halo above my head!”
For some people, the path to holiness and to their vocation is easy. They emanate holiness, practically from birth. But most people are just average folks who feel a little gnawing in their souls, and they question whether they are “holy enough” to follow the call.
When I was discerning my vocation, I wrestled with this same objection. I often said, “There is NO WAY God is calling me to be a priest. Not with what I’ve said and done!" But we see over and over again in scripture and in the lives of the saints that God calls the most unlikely people to do the most heroic tasks.
Archbishop Brunett once said to me, “All of your life experiences, good and bad, go into your ‘treasure chest’ to be used for God’s plan later. Don’t have regrets about having waited. You learned many lessons in your life that will help people in your priesthood.”
The final push to pursue my vocation came one day when I went to St. James Cathedral for daily mass. Just before mass was supposed to begin, someone from the staff came out and announced that no priest was available, so there would not be a mass. As people began to leave, a woman walked past me and I heard her say, “What are you going to do about this?” I looked up at her to reply, but she kept walking, and I realized that she hadn’t said anything. I could have sworn she had spoken to me, but I believe now that God had been speaking to me. So I went home, picked up the phone, and called the Archdiocese.
What was your job before entering the seminary?
I worked a variety jobs in the restaurant business, eventually becoming the operations manager for several American bistros, one specializing in French-American cuisine. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry, you may know that cooks are artists, and can be temperamental. On more than one occasion, when a cook stormed out over a criticism or a mistake, I had to jump in to take over. A chef took me under his wing, and trained me in cooking and baking, so I learned how to work as a pastry chef.
I am an avid coffee drinker, so I also enjoyed working in the restaurants as a barista. You may call me a bit of a “coffee snob”! I have a particular taste for traditional French-style espressos.
What are your hobbies or special interests?
I still love baking when I have the time. I bake a cake every year for the school auction, and I practice weeks in advance so I get the recipe just how I want it. Every now and again, I will bake something for the parish staff as a surprise.
I am also a movie buff. I absolutely love films. I have over a thousand movies in my collection from every genre: comedy, drama, scary films, religious films. I am an introvert by nature, so I really enjoy my quiet time to watch movies. People often assume that I am an extrovert because of how I express myself during my homilies, but that is all due to the grace of the sacrament of ordination!
“Blessed be God in all his designs.”
Who are some of your favorite saints?
Blessed Solanus Casey was a priest from Detroit whom I deeply admire for his service of the poor and his humility. He was what is known as a Capuchin “minor priest,” which means that although he was ordained, he was not allowed to hear confessions or “say” Mass because his superiors thought he was too ignorant. He served as a sacristan and a porter for over twenty years, sitting at the door of the monastery, greeting people. He was so charitable and wise that people started to come to him for advice and blessings. Over time, he became so popular that hundreds of visitors came to see him every day, waiting in long lines outside the monastery. One of his favorite expressions was, “Blessed be God in all his designs.”
I also love St. Faustina, not only for her message of Jesus’ Divine Mercy, but for her care for the sick, the poorest of the poor. Like Fr. Solanus Casey and many of the great saints, she also possessed great humility.
What are some of your favorite scripture verses?
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15b)
“The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” (Luke 1:49-50)
“You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
“We strive for holiness, not perfection.”
What do you want people to know about our parish?
I want people to know that we strive for holiness, not perfection. People are searching for holiness. They are craving the sacred. People are looking for God, and He will bring them to holiness, fulfilling their heart's deepest desire.