On June 1, Archbishop José H. Gomez will ordain 11 new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

In the days leading up to their ordination, we’ll be introducing a new soon-to-be Father. Los Angeles, meet your new priests!

Age: 33

Hometown: Baldwin Park

Home parish: St. John the Baptist Church, Baldwin Park

Parish assignment: St. Anthony Church, Oxnard

In trying to figure out what to do with his life, Alejandro Reynaga went through a lot of schooling.

Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park. Pasadena City College. Cal State Dominguez Hills.

He was a nursing major. Then, pharmacy. Finally, psychology.

He was going to be a pharmacist. No, a therapist.

“I don’t regret any of it,” Reynaga said. “I’ve enjoyed learning everything I have as much of a struggle as it’s been.

“I’d do it all again.”

What he didn’t realize until later was the work he had been doing as a catechist teaching confirmation class was setting him up to be what God wanted for him.

Growing up the middle child of a family of three children, Reynaga was raised Catholic, but it wasn’t until his first Communion that he truly felt at home in the Church.

Alejandro Reynaga is carried by his parents, Afra and Jose, along with his maternal grandparents and godparents, Inocencio Sánchez Curiel and Magdalena Preciado de Sánchez.

He hadn’t yet thought of the priesthood but felt strongly that he was called to serve.

“I always knew I wanted to go back to the church and serve one way or another,” Reynaga said. “And the same thing happened when I was in the confirmation program. I remember that’s when I really decided that at some point in the future, I would go back and probably teach, volunteer and give back what I had received.” 

A few years later he got his wish as both he and his younger sister became confirmation teachers. It was in doing those duties and working with young people where he felt most satisfied and began setting his sights even higher.

“I was inspired by them to continue living my life for Christ,” Reynaga said. “I think I always knew that I was doing God's work. Even in difficult moments, going to school and working and still wanting to go back and share my faith with the kids, with the teens was something that I felt very fulfilling.”

The thought of religious life occurred to him in an unlikely place: History class.

During a discussion of the Middle Ages, his teacher spoke about how the monks lived and their prayer life. Reynaga thought that maybe one day he might, but since he was young, that was a long way off.

“I didn’t know that young people could actually live a life like that,” Reynaga said. “I didn’t know that they could live a life devoted to God, which I wish I had known, but I guess I found that out later.”

Alejandro Reynaga, right, poses with his parents, Jose and Afra, older brother Hector, and younger sister Lorena.

Thinking he might want to live religious life as a monk or in a community, he began attending discernment retreats, including with the Discalced Carmelites. But ultimately, he realized that he was being called to the priesthood, so he called the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and applied for the seminary.

What Reynaga is most looking forward to in becoming a priest is to continually grow into being a spiritual father for those who need it.

“I’m looking forward to growing in that understanding,” he said. “I hear a lot of the priests and recently ordained that after ordination, there’s a change. You definitely recognize it. So I'm looking forward to seeing that and hoping that those changes are something that I come to grow into.”

Recognizing that we’re living in as distracted a world as ever, Reynaga hopes to cut through it all to announce the love of Jesus Christ.

“I know that's a tall order, especially now when there’s so many other loud voices and so much noise,” he said. “But it’s to quickly or slowly reintroduce Jesus into the world. 

“It’s an uphill battle, but we’re fighting it together. We’re doing what we can to be united and deliver the Gospel.”