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: 40

Hometown: Tenancingo, Mexico

Home parish: St. Louis of France Church, La Puente

Parish assignment: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Downey

When Jaime Arriaga was a kid, he told his mom he was going to be a father.

“Oh yes, you’re going to be the father of many children,” she said.

“But I specifically told her no, I will be a father like those who say Masses,” Arriaga said.

What he didn’t expect is that he might be saying those Masses outside of his hometown in Mexico. Arriaga, the youngest boy with two older sisters, moved to California when he was 11 years old.

While he was happy in Mexico running in cornfields and playing soccer with neighborhood children, in California, it was more stifling.

“We did things as a family, but mostly going to the mall, to the market, going to do our laundry,” he said. “And that was basically it. If I wanted to go to the market, I couldn’t go by myself. So I felt that I didn’t have the same freedom as I did over there.”

Jaime Arriaga blesses a family following a Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Downey.

He went to La Puente High School for one year, but then the family moved back to Mexico. At age 17, Arriaga returned to California, but rather than go back to school, he instead went to work.

Working in a food-processing plant is a far cry from priesthood, but that’s where he felt the first pangs of God calling him.

One day while talking with a coworker, the man spoke of his experience in the seminary in Mexico. Arriaga was moved by the possibility.

“I just felt this burning sensation in my chest,” he said. “And I was thinking to myself, I could probably do that. But I didn’t say anything to him, to no one.”

Another encounter happened when a friend invited him to a young adult retreat and something inside of him changed after that.

“I think it was the happiness that I saw in the young adults,” Arriaga said. “And that’s something that I needed in my life at that time.”

The experience prompted him to get more involved at his home parish, becoming a lector and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

But still, there was something missing. He was still yearning for something else, something more.

“So I was like, ‘What more is there for me?’ ” Arriaga said. “And as I kept asking this question, I finally asked God, what do you want from me? And that’s when I started considering priesthood.”

The problem is, he didn’t know anything about the priesthood or how you became one. So after doing research online, he contacted the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and left a message. Not expecting to ever receive a response, he was contacted a couple of days later.

Jaime Arriaga, left, along with fellow seminarian Eduardo Pruneda, participates in the transitional diaconate Mass in 2023 with Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau.

He spent two years discerning, then more years at the Juan Diego House (now Queen of Angels Center for Priestly Formation) before continuing at St. John’s Seminary.

Despite finally being on a path to priesthood, he remained racked with doubt, wondering if he should continue or not. At the year-end retreat, he received a book on St. John Vianney. In it, he read that St. John Vianney had a devotion to St. Philomena and encouraged people to pray for her intercession.

Knowing that nearby was St. Philomena Church in Carson, he took it as a sign and went to the parish to pray.

“And that's when I finally felt at peace,” Arriaga said.

As his ordination approaches, Arriaga hopes to minister and be a sign to everyone, but especially those less fortunate, including immigrants and the homeless.

“Sometimes we have the impression that they chose to be there, but it’s not,” Arriaga said. “Some people just don’t have an option and that’s where they end up. And we are called to be the face of Jesus. We have to show them that God loves them and hasn’t abandoned them. 

“Even if it’s one person who gets out of homelessness, I think that’s something very good.”