Pastor ready to grow into new home
by Sam Matthews
Aug 22, 2014 | 2520 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Rev. David Dutra, who joined St. Bernard’s Parish on Aug. 1, is expected to become the parish pastor in the summer of 2015.  Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
The Rev. David Dutra, who joined St. Bernard’s Parish on Aug. 1, is expected to become the parish pastor in the summer of 2015. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
The Rev. David Dutra will play a larger role than normal for a new associate pastor of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.

During the coming year, he will be preparing to become parish pastor in the summer of 2015.

Msgr. Ivo Rocha, pastor for the past 30 years, originally had planned to retire this year, but he is remaining one more year to be a mentor to his successor and achieve a smooth transition.

Dutra, who came to St. Bernard’s on Aug. 1 from St. George’s Parish in Stockton, said he had not yet been officially designated to become St. Bernard’s pastor in 2015, but he hoped the transition would be a success and he would be able to succeed Rocha next summer.

“I had been administrator of St. George’s Parish for two years and pastor for the last two years, but it is a much smaller parish than St. Bernard’s,” he said. “This coming year will give me an opportunity to gain invaluable experience in all aspects of life at St. Bernard’s.”

Dutra, a 48-year-old native of the island of San Miguel in the Azores, came to the priesthood later in life than most priests.

After immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 5 with his family and growing up in San Leandro and Castro Valley, he went to Soledad in the Salinas Valley to work with his father in farming.

After seeing Pope John Paul II celebrate Mass at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey in 1987, he knew he wanted to become a priest and decided to begin studying for the priesthood.

He attended Mount Angel College in Oregon, where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and then earned a master’s degree in theology from St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. He was ordained in 2007.

Dutra served as vicar at Sacred Heart parish in Turlock and later on the staffs of St. Stanislaus in Modesto and St. Mary’s in Stockton before moving to St. George’s.

In those positions, his ability to speak Spanish was a great help in working with Spanish-speaking parishioners, he reported. He also wants to improve his Portuguese.

“I was born in the Azores, but I left when I was 5 years old and unfortunately didn’t retain an ability to speak Portuguese with any degree of fluency,” he said. “But I’m going to learn.”

At St. Bernard’s, he is serving Mass at the main church on Eaton Avenue and at the Holy Family Center on Valpico Road and is also taking confessions. Dutra will meet regularly with the pastoral and finance councils of the parish and take part in all parish activities, including the upcoming St. Bernard’s Festival.

“Mostly, I want to get to get to know the people of the parish,” he said. “They have been very welcoming to me, and I already I feel at home here.”

• Contact Sam Matthews at or 830-4234.

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