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: 34

Hometown: Modesto

Home parish: St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church, Santa Clarita

Parish assignment: St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church, Santa Clarita

For being the happiest place on earth, working at Disney World ultimately isn’t what made Stephen Watson happy.

Working in the culinary world, he had reached a dream destination but was still left unfulfilled.

This was where Watson found himself: A culinary graduate from Modesto who had landed a dream gig at Disney World, and was now grinding 75 hours a week as a caterer in Portland, Oregon.

“I do think it was God’s way of saying if this is what you want to do, I think you need to do it before you come to me,” Watson said.

Stephen Watson, far left, sits on Santa’s lap as a child with siblings Robert, Neil, Katie, and Michelle.

The middle child of five kids, Watson grew up the “peacekeeper” in his family and with a more agricultural upbringing having been raised in Modesto. Rather than taking physics or chemistry in school, he studied agricultural science or horticulture.

Not that school was something that was interesting to him

“While I was in high school, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to a four-year college,” Watson said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t like school or I wasn’t good at it. It just didn’t appeal to me.”

What he did enjoy was cooking, and especially baking. After graduating high school, he attended culinary school in Portland, where he had family living.

And that’s where the Disney World opportunity came to be, with a Disney representative at the school offering a 1-in-2,500 chance to join its culinary intern program.

Incredibly, Watson earned the spot.

“I don’t know how,” he said.

During this time, balancing all that was going on in his life, he had fallen away from the Church.

Back in Portland and working as a caterer, he decided to start going back to Mass and later to adoration regularly.

It was then he realized that he had been following the wrong path and so did what anyone might do in 2010: He messaged his parish pastor on Facebook, “Father, can we talk?”

Waiting outside the pastor’s office, he finally had this undeniable feeling he was meant to become a priest.

“He said, ‘Stephen, what do you want to talk about?’ ” Watson said.

“I said, ‘Well, Father, I think I might be called to be a priest.’

“That’s great. How long have you been thinking about it?”

“Well, about five seconds.”

Stephen Watson poses with his parents, Daniel and Deanna, at the Louvre Pyramid in France.

When it came to telling his family, he planned to make a big meal and read a letter he had written because he didn’t think he could say it out loud.

“I read them this letter thinking it would be this grand revelation, and they all said, ‘Oh, we knew that,’ ” Watson said.

Then discernment came, and like the rest of his life so far, that process wasn’t a straight line either. After a few months of spiritual direction, he was told that he needed to make a decision, take a leap of faith, and enter into a formation program.

Having already gone from Modesto to Florida to Oregon, Watson found himself in San Diego at a formation house run by the Eudists. He spent nine years there, but not after discerning out after a few years and spending a year in France.

In 2017, he entered St. John’s Seminary and finally felt like he had found the right fit and where he was called to be.

“Like in dating, it takes a couple of people before you get to the right one,” Watson said.

As his ordination arrives, and after a formation journey that lasted 14 years, he is ready to serve in a region that did not start out as his home but has become one.

“At 17 or 18 years old, if you were to ask me to move to Los Angeles and become a priest here, I could not have imagined that,” Watson said. “God was the great storyteller and the one who married our lives that really brought me here.”