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: 29

Hometown: Pacoima

Home parish: Guardian Angel Church, Pacoima

Parish assignment: Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Ventura

If you’d have told Mario Felix 13 years ago that one of his confirmation students would go on to become a priest, Eric Mejia wouldn’t have been his first guess. 

“Would it have even registered? I’d probably say no,” said Felix, who’s taught confirmation at Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima for the last 30 years. 

“He had a lot of things going against him, just like most kids do here,” said Felix, himself the father of LA priest Father Christopher Felix. “But God moves in mysterious ways.”

Mejia with his mother, Paula.

Mejia’s mother was just 16 when she had him, an emigrant from El Salvador who didn’t know English, or what to do next. 

“She had to just figure out how to raise me,” Mejia recalled. 

After Mejia came five brothers. Things at home weren’t always easy, and by the time he got to East Valley High School in North Hollywood, Mejia was a self-proclaimed troublemaker. 

“All that caught up with me and I ended up being a really unhappy and angry son,” he remembered. 

But that was when Mejia’s mother made a decision that would alter the course of her son’s life: enrolling him in the confirmation program at Guardian Angel, near the housing projects where they lived. As Mejia tells it, his mom didn’t know what else to do with him. 

“She would say, ‘If the Church doesn’t fix you, I don’t know what else could fix you,’ ” he recalled. 

Mejia didn’t have much of a faith life. He didn’t even know the words of the Our Father, Felix remembers. But something about his new confirmation teacher surprised him. 

“He treated us like adults,” said Mejia. “He was very just honest about his faith towards us. That struck a chord with me and made me start wanting to have more of a change.”

Mejia had found an angel at Guardian Angel. 

Mejia with young men in Guardian Angel Church’s “Guardians of the Altar” altar serving group at his first Mass as a deacon in May 2023.

“We just did a lot of talking, we focused a lot on their relationship with God,” remembered Felix. “And so, he took it and liked what he heard.”

After a year in the confirmation program, “Mr. Felix” invited Mejia to join “Guardians of the Altar,” an altar serving ministry for young men he’d started in the parish. 

Eventually, Mejia found himself helping around the parish as a first Communion teacher and then as a sacristan, too. It was a time when he felt his faith “was always going up and down,” but with the guidance of then-pastor Father Steve Guitron, he turned to daily prayer, helping him discern what to do next in life. 

After finishing community college, Mejia decided it was time to give the priesthood a chance. He entered Juan Diego House in Gardena and, after graduating, continued at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. 

Eric Mejia confirmation

A blurry photo shows the moment of Eric Mejia's confirmation as a teenager. When his sponsor missed indications to stand behind him, Mario Felix got up to take her place, Mejia remembers.

During seminary, Mejia got to give back what he’d received. At his internship parish and back at Guardian Angel, he had the chance to help in confirmation and invite people back to church after the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as the Church found him during a difficult time in his life, he sees his mission as a priest as “providing a place of support, of listening, of encouragement” for those who need it most. 

As if to confirm that nothing in Mejia’s vocation story has been by chance, his ordination to the priesthood comes as Guardian Angel prepares to dedicate a new church building later this year, a sign of hope in one of the San Fernando Valley’s toughest areas. 

The future priest hopes that the people he encounters in his ministry can have the same experience of Jesus Christ that he’s had, “to discover how much they are worth in the eyes of God.”

“I’ve encountered people throughout the years who talk about the impact that other priests have had on them. That’s what I would want,” said Mejia. “It’s really just being a father for somebody else.”