Growing up in the Philippines with a politician father and a teacher mother, John Paul Escarlan knew early on that his would be a life of service.
He was ordained a Catholic priest on Friday by Bishop Anthony Fisher in St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta, and appointed assistant priest at St Madeleine Sophie Barat parish in Kenthurst.
"When I was a teenager, my parents would say 'Go to church' and I'd go because I was told, until such time as I said 'This is my faith' — I embraced it," he said.
"When you wake up the following day after ordination, you are still a human being," he said.
"It's very important to have friends not just among the priests, but among the people."
Father Escarlan, 29, was a seminarian for 12 years— six in his home town of Santa Fe [Spanish for "holy faith"] and another six in the Parramatta diocese, where he visited parishes in Riverstone, Blacktown, Penrith and St Marys.
A keen basketball and tennis player, Father Escarlan hopes to bring an honest and authentic approach to the priesthood.
Before his ordination, Father Escarlan obtained degrees in philosophy and theology, worked with the deaf community, and helped build houses in impoverished parts of Peru.
In keeping with tradition, he will celebrate a series of thanksgiving Masses at the parishes he learnt at.