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: Bocas, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Home parish: St. Mariana de Paredes Church, Pico Rivera

Parish assignment: Mission Basilica San Buenaventura, Ventura

Growing up in the small town of Bocas, Mexico, there were few parts of Eduardo Pruneda’s upbringing that didn’t yell “cradle Catholic.” 

His family — especially his Mom’s side — were devout churchgoers. His aunts were catechists. Priests could often be found having dinner at his grandparents’ home. Pruneda himself was an altar server from a young age, and before that, acted as priest when playing Mass at home with his three brothers. 

The cultural Catholicism found in Bocas left its mark on Pruneda, the third of four brothers.

“As a Mexican family, we had those little traditions and devotions that helped me to get stronger in my faith growing up,” said Pruneda. 

Eduardo Pruneda, right, in the arms of his mother, Maria del Carmen, with his father José Félix and two older brothers.

For as early as he can remember, Pruneda felt an “attraction” to the priesthood. He felt especially drawn to the “superpower” he sensed while watching the priest celebrate the Eucharist, “knowing that he had something that I didn’t have.”

Soon, the adolescent Pruneda became insistent with his parents: he wanted to enter the seminary. 

“I always knew it,” Pruneda said about his vocation. He just didn’t know where that calling would take him. 

Pruneda first entered minor seminary in Mexico while in high school, before continuing in Mexico City. A few years later, while taking a year off to visit the U.S. and learn English, he came into contact with the Van-Clar missionaries at St. Rose of Lima in Maywood, a lay missionary group with the spirituality of the Poor Clare sisters. 

Eventually, Pruneda accepted an invitation to join the group on a mission trip to the African country of Sierra Leone. The experience shook him up. 

“It was a very hard experience in the beginning,” said Pruneda. “I was thinking, I have the tools, I’ve been in formation for a couple years, I come to evangelize and things like that. But then it becomes nothing when you see the reality of the people.”

Pruneda’s group spent a lot of time helping at a school run by nuns but attended by more Muslim children than Catholics. For many, their only meal of the day was the one they received at school. 

Eduardo Pruneda with village children during the mission trip to Sierra Leone that changed his life.

But the experience also gave Pruneda hope, seeing the zealous spirit of the sisters and the generosity of children with no material possessions sharing the little they had. 

“That gave me a lot of strength to continue my vocation,” said Pruneda.  

Returning to Mexico, his plans to resume formation there were scrambled. Despite reservations about the thought of becoming a priest in the U.S., he was convinced to apply for formation in Los Angeles. There, his studies took him from Juan Diego House in Gardena to St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, with a parish internship year at St. Anthony of Padua in San Gabriel. 

During these years apart from his family, Pruneda is grateful for the spiritual “moms” in LA who’ve kept him fed, the “dads” who’ve kept him in line, and the “brothers” in seminary who’ve kept him company. 

“The Lord has provided a family for me,” he believes. 

Eduardo Pruneda with his pastor in Mexico on the day of his first Communion.

Having been born on Nov. 1, the feast day of All Saints, Pruneda has also leaned on several intercessors for prayers during times of struggle and doubt. Two of them aren’t even saints yet: Blessed Miguel Pro, a young Jesuit martyred during the Cristero War; and Blessed María Inés Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament, founder of the Van-Clar missionaries. 

“When I see her, I feel like I’m at home,” he said. “I see her as a spiritual mother.”

Pruneda said he’s particularly excited to serve as a priest in a place with people of so many different backgrounds — quite different from his hometown of 2,000 people.

“I hope that people feel that we are a multicultural archdiocese, but at the same time just one Church,” said Pruneda. “I knew that here is the place where the Lord wants me to serve.”