St. Augustine welcomed a new pastor to their parish, the Rev. Roberto A. Orellana, 47, as of late June.
A quiet man with a reserved, efficient demeanor, Orellana is no stranger to the East Metro-Atlanta region after having lived in the area for almost 30 years. He comes to Covington from St. Patrick Catholic Church in Norcross where he served for two years, and St. Pius X Catholic Church in Conyers before that. He has also served at the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Holy Cross Catholic Church in Atlanta and Transfiguration Catholic Church in Marietta.
Born in El Salvador in 1962, Orellana came to the United States with his family in 1980 to escape the civil war. He finished high school in Gainsville at the Riverside Academy and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from the University of Georgia and a diploma in Global Studies and International Relations. After school he worked in the food service industry as a manager of a catering business for six years.
Getting the calling was a very gradual process for Orellana. It started when he was a boy in El Salvador, going to Catholic school, but it wasn't until he was in his thirties and became more and more involved at church that he really felt the pull. He decided that the best way to serve and help people would be as a priest. His family and those who knew him were very supportive of his decision and encouraged him through seminary. In 1996 he entered the Benedictine Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana, to study philosophy, and earned a Master of Divinity from Benedictine Seminary of Saint Vincent in Latrobe, Pa. He also went on to earn a Master of Theology in Jewish Studies from MBI Jeshiva because of his interest in the Old Testament. He was ordained in July 2001 for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
This is Orellana's first position as pastor. He said he was excited when he learned he would be coming to St. Augustine. He had been primarily responsible for coordinating large Hispanic ministries at his previous parishes.
For now, he has been getting to know the congregation, meeting with the different parish groups and getting to know the community's needs in general before setting any goals. He knows that this is a growth parish, however, and that some of St. Augustine's needs in the near future will include buildings and office space.
"I'm looking forward to helping people make it to heaven and trying to meet their needs as best as I can," said Orellana.
He said the adjustment process has been going well partly because he already knew some St. Augustine families from his time at St. Pius X in Conyers, and he feels like he's already been here a longer than just a few weeks.
"Thus far, it seems to be a very loving, very wonderful community," said Orellana. "I feel at home."
In his spare time, Orellana likes to garden and landscape and go to the gym, in addition to reading.