On June 3, Archbishop José H. Gomez will ordain eight new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. 

The Class of 2023 has heard God calling them in the ups and downs of their professional careers, family lives, and the quiet intimacy of eucharistic adoration.

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: 61

Hometown: Sainte-Croix, Switzerland

Home parish: St. Brendan Church, Hancock Park

Parish assignment: St. Joseph Church, Carpinteria

At the age of 61, Rene J-C Haarpaintner can honestly say he’s experienced some of the best things that life has to offer. 

Born in the picturesque town of Sainte-Croix near the border with France, Haarpaintner grew up one of five sons born to a Swiss-German father and a devout Catholic mother from Spain. He embraced the agricultural life and became a dairy farmer, while also discovering a sport that he was really good at: race-walking.

So good, in fact, that he made his country’s international race-walking team, and almost qualified for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The life of a professional athlete meant frequent international trips, especially around Europe. It was on a train ride from Switzerland to Luxembourg that he met Lauren — “a Jewish girl from Beverly Hills,” as he described her — who captured his heart.

Their love story led to marriage and a new life for Haarpaintner in Los Angeles, where he went through chiropractic school to join Lauren, a primary-care doctor and founder of the Center for Natural Family Medicine, at her medical office.

A family photo of Haarpaintner, his late wife, Lauren, and their two sons.

The couple had two sons, now aged 29 and 25. Lauren eventually converted from Judaism to the Catholic faith and the couple became active parishioners at St. Brendan Church in Hancock Park, attending daily Mass before going to work together in the mornings.

Then, in 2014, Lauren was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer. She died three months later. 

As Lauren was facing her last days of life, Haarpaintner said he felt “something deep” inside him. When they realized that Lauren was not going to make it, he knew what it was. So did she. 

“Are you going to become a priest?” she asked a few days before dying.

He assured her that no, he would continue to run their medical office, find a primary care doctor to replace her, and take care of their boys. “But she knew it,” he said. 

It was a call that Haarpaintner said he rejected at first. But in the year after her death, his “heart wasn’t in it anymore” and he sold the medical office. He opened up to his pastor at the time, Msgr. Terrance Fleming, who asked him, “What about the priesthood?”


Before moving to the U.S., Haarpaintner competed for Switzerland’s race-walking team.

From there, he was introduced to a regional vocations director. In the process that led him to the seminary a year after Lauren’s death, Haarpaintner remembered experiencing “the peace I had been pursuing.”

“I knew I was on the right path,” he recalled. 

The transition to seminary life meant giving up comforts he’d been used to all his life, and finding camaraderie with fellow seminarians young enough to be his sons. But Haarpaintner said he was “very happy to make the change.”

“With God’s help, you adapt to anything,” he said. 


Haarpaintner, born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, was a dairy farmer in his youth.

Why did God call him now? Haarpaintner suspects that a big part of his ministry will be ministering to families. During his parish internship year, the pastor encouraged him to speak to couples suffering amid the pandemic. Listening to them and giving advice “resonated” in him, given his personal experience with the ups and downs of marriage.

“The family is so important. It’s the foundation of everything, of society, of a nation,” said Haarpaintner. “People have to really meditate, pray, and discern about marriage and how important it is.”

Haarpaintner compared his new mission with shepherding cattle in his youth, whether leading them from the front or running after them from behind.

“It’s not about me, it’s about bringing [the people] to Christ,” he said. “The more you know him, the more you want to be close to him.”