Francis Cabildo (BA in Theology, ’21) works as an assistant director of campus ministry for Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and is also a singer-songwriter. He and his wife Nicole are raising five young boys.
“I was one of those students who took a long break in completing my degree,” Francis says. “First, I was not sure what I wanted to study. My career choice is not one that you hear about in mainstream college career choices. Looking back, I can see the hand of God guiding me each step of the way.”
“My education from CDU gave me confidence as well as valuable knowledge that has helped me in my professional life. I have also gained critical thinking skills, organizational skills, and increased my ability to look at things through a worldview centered on Jesus and his Church,” Francis says.
As assistant campus minister, Francis plans, prepares, and facilitates retreats for students and trains volunteers and student leaders in how to run small groups, present talks, and work as a team. He also plans and leads music at Masses and other liturgies. Francis enjoys working with students, especially those who are furthest away from the Lord. “I love to see them realize the love of God and for them to begin a relationship with Jesus and the Church,” he says. He also enjoys helping volunteers and student leaders discover a love for ministry and leading others to Christ and working with students’ parents–especially when they encounter Jesus in real ways through their students returning from retreat.
One of the biggest struggles Francis finds in working with students is the lack of evangelization. Though students may know how to answer a test question about God or the Church, they may not have not had a real encounter with God or know Jesus, he explains.
Francis has been in music ministry for close to 28 years. He started as a volunteer singing at his local parish. “I quickly discovered that I have a calling to help others pray through music,” he says. “I am passionate about helping the people of God find their voice, and it gives me great joy knowing that the gifts God has given me are helping to build the kingdom and give glory to God.”
His youth minister in high school played guitar and inspired him to learn. Francis bought his first guitar when he was 18 years old after saving up tips from busing tables and taught himself to play. He served on National Evangelization Team Ministries from 1994 to 1995, which challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. Every August, 175 young Catholics aged 18-28 travel across the U.S. for nine months to share the Gospel with young people and their families. “That is when I really heard the calling to be a worship leader/musician,” he says. After NET, he served at his local parish, Sacred Heart in Rancho Cucamonga, California, as a youth leader and a liturgical musician and helped with Masses, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and retreats.
Francis’ family is an integral part of all that he does, and they help him to connect with God in many ways. “Being a husband reminds me that I have to die to myself daily and that I am first to serve and to die for my bride just as Christ died for his bride,” he says. “My children are gifts and blessings. They help me to grow in love and patience, and they help me practice forgiveness and mercy.”
“I chose CDU because it gave me flexibility and options,” he says. “I am raising a young family, and with my work in ministry, my schedule did not allow me to take courses with a normal schedule. CDU gave me the opportunity to complete my degree and still be present to my family and those that I serve in ministry at the high school.”