LAYTON -- One thing that's clear to the parishioners at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church is that their new priest, Father Clarence Sandoval, will be doing more listening than talking.
When asked about his ways, a small group described him as a listener.
The priest, who ministers in both Spanish and English, said he has no pre-determined plans for the church he's led since Aug. 3. He said the people will determine his direction for him.
"I just got here," he said when asked of his goals. "I'm just getting to know what their needs are. My mission is not to make any large changes. It's to see what the needs of the people are and go from there. You have to listen. I'll be spending a lot of time just listening and hearing their stories and seeing where God takes us."
Sandoval, a native of Stockton, near Tooele, has spent his entire ministry in Utah. He said he has always served in the same way.
"My vision here has always been the same: to lead people to God," he said. "Everything I do and put into place will be that sense of wisdom, a relationship with God. If I'm not bringing God to them, than I'm not doing my job."
Sandoval said everything he does will be centered around telling the same story, the story of Jesus.
By telling the story of Jesus, people can listen and apply its lessons to their lives, he said. "That way, they have a connection and something greater than what they are because sometimes the world does not give that."
He hopes to give the church new life, bringing more people back to the church through old ways.
If the community is alive and ministers to them, they will come back, he said.
Sandoval joined the ministry in his late 20s after a trip to Lesotho, Africa, with the Peace Corps He is a graduate of Tooele High School and Utah State University.
He attended Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore., earning a masters degree in divinity.
He was ordained Aug. 21, 1987 as a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. His first assignment was as a parochial vicar of Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish in Price.
From 1989 to 1995, he served as pastor of Saint Elizabeth Parish in Sevier County and Saint Jude Mission in Ephraim.
In 1995, he was assigned to Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Logan.
He said one of the most difficult issues he dealt with as a pastor there was the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on the Swift & Co. meat-packing plant in Hyrum on Dec. 12, 2006, in which 145 people were arrested as illegal immigrants.
Some of them were St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners.
"It was very difficult, not only for our Spanish-speaking community, but for our whole parish," he said, noting that the parish was one family.
He worked with others in his parish to meet the needs of those who were arrested and their families.
He hired attorneys and worked to find housing for children whose parents were detained in the raid.
He said the event left many Spanish-speaking parishioners with no sense of security.
"After the raid, most people were calling us, afraid to go out of their houses. They weren't even grocery shopping. We were taking things to their houses," he said.
Even as he left there, many of the immigration cases are still in the courts and hanging over the heads of those involved.
He said leaving Logan was difficult because parishioners had become like his family, but he is looking forward to making the same types of connections at his new parish.
Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, the diocese vicar general, called Sandoval a wonderful gift to Saint Rose of Lima.