How early do you remember being called to the priesthood? 

My parents taught me to love the Church by taking me to church for Masses and prayers; it was part of our lives. When I finished grade school, I was in an altar server meeting and a seminarian came home and said, “Hey Alex, the application for the seminary is out,” so I went and grabbed it. I was used to being close to the priest at the altar; I saw how they loved the Church and it made an impact on my life.

After you earned your B.A., you spent five years in a Cistercian monastery discerning your vocation. Did you feel that God might be calling you somewhere else? 

Not really. I remember my mom asked me why I left the seminary and I told her, “If God wants me, he knows how to catch me.” So I went to the monastery to cool my head and get myself back to the society and world I’d left ,and they asked me to work for them. I ended up living there for five years praying and listening and waiting.

How did you end up moving to Belize?

I moved there to do my graduate studies in philosophy then I thought I’d go back home and get to work and get married and live my life. I got to know the priest in my parish there, and he started talking to me about the priesthood without knowing about my past life and experiences at all. When I revealed myself to him and told him I’d been in the seminary, he kept encouraging me to pray and think about it.

Where did God lead you after that? 

After two years living in Belize, I went to Mexico to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe for a two-week retreat and decided to stay in Mexico and study Spanish. After two years working there, I got to know a religious community called the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity; they brought me to California and I enjoyed the spirituality but I’m outgoing and I wanted more. I prayed and asked God, then I told the community that I thought I was going to leave. They didn’t want me to go, so I kept praying and asking God, “If you want me to be a happy priest, please take me out of here.”

How did you end up in Milwaukee? 

The Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity asked if there was somewhere I knew I wanted to go and I said no. They told me to look so I looked at places where I had friends, in Chicago and Long Island, but they all looked like big cities and I wanted something similar to where I was born; that’s when I found Milwaukee. I searched the archdiocese online and liked the look of it, and came to visit. I was accepted into Saint Francis De Sales Seminary in January 2015

What do you think the struggle you went through did for your faith? 

It made it stronger. When you know that God is calling you it makes you bold that he’s talking to you. All of these experiences made my faith stronger and helped me be able to connect with people who feel frustration and need that leadership. I’ve been there. Many despair and fall away, and I think what I’ve been through makes it possible to be with them because I’ve been there.

What similarities did you see between your home and Milwaukee? 

It’s roughly the same size: not too big and not too small. I wanted somewhere cold, too. I hated the heat in California. We don’t get so much sun from the east where I’m from; it gets hot but I found out growing up that I like cold environments more.

You’ve lived in so many different places. Was it difficult for you to acclimate to the culture here in Wisconsin? 

I like experimenting with different cultures. I was in an airport and someone asked where I was going and I said Wisconsin and they said, “Well, you’ll have to learn how to eat cheese and drink beer.” I loved Milwaukee when I came and after a few days here it snowed and I thought, “I see cold.” It was awesome. I love this part of life, meeting new people and being in a unique situation.

How are you maintaining a close relationship with your parishioners during this time? 

Honestly, considering my personality, I hope this will be the worst moment of my life. I love being with people and living life together but now I do livestream Masses and send emails, do Zoom and phone calls, but it’s not the same. Weekends are the joyful time of my life. The parishioners make me feel fulfilled in my priesthood; when I see them every weekend and see their smiling faces, it makes me fulfilled. So this is a struggle. As people of faith, we’ll get through this and we’ll come back to the daily life of the parish. That’s what I’m looking forward to. This will come and go. God is bigger.

What do you think God is saying to you specifically during this time of trial? 

I think he maybe wants me to slow down. I like to work, but now I can’t do much of that with this current situation. I’m giving more time to reading, my daily adoration and prayer, and trying to listen attentively.

What do you think he might be saying to us collectively as his Church? 

The life we live is a gift to us, and there is a giver, God. We have to go to him first thing and ask, “How do you want us to use the gift you’ve given us?” This gift God has given us, this life, is to live for him. We are created to know God, love God and serve God. I hope when we come back we’ll put him at the center of our lives and value the sacraments more and love one another more.