Father Cruz Alejandro Sánchez Mares, 35, was born in the small town of Tecolotlan in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The community there had only 300 people, and a priest visited just once a week.
He was one of 10 children—eight brothers and one sister—born to Bartolo Sánchez Brambila and Juana Mares Perez.
His family was Catholic—and he learned some of the basics of the faith such as attending Mass, praying the Rosary—but that was pretty much all. Even so, Father Sánchez said, “I always knew I had a calling, but I resisted.”
In high school, he stopped attending Mass altogether.
He went to Universidad de Guadalajara and earned a degree in law and got a job as a lawyer at a government institution that offered legal services to Mexico’s farmers. “I loved that job,” he said.
His journey to the priesthood was a long one, which he described as a “late vocation.” Even blessed with a job he loved, he knew something was not quite how it was meant to be.
That’s when he realized, “When you have a calling, every time you resist, your life is miserable.”
It wasn’t easy, he noted. “I was debating. I had a job, my family. I had all I needed.”
He came to New York in 2009 and entered the St. John Nuemann Residence and Hall then the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation.
Along his faith journey, he credits two people, Father Santiago Rubio, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard’s, Manhattan, and another friend, Miguel Zaualza, for inspiring him.
“I was always looking for something, there was a need,” he said. “When I came to the seminary, that need, what I was looking for, I found it.
“I felt I was on the right path. I was answering the call God gave me,” he said.
He noted that although he did make sacrifices to become a priest, he does not feel that his life will be lacking.
“It’s natural to desire to have a wife, a family,” he said. “I gave that up, but I feel in my life, it’s worth it. A priest is not sacrificing connections to someone else. A priest is connected to the families in the parish.”
His formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary, he noted, has helped him further develop that relationship. “When you enter the seminary, you realize it’s fostering a change in you. It’s not only teaching you about God, it’s helping you develop a relationship with Him,” he said.
“That’s the main purpose of seminary formation,” he said.
He is most looking forward to sharing the blessings he has received with his parish family. “I have come to know God and I want to help people come to know God,” he said.
Father Sánchez’s First Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Manhattan, on Saturday, May 28, at 6 p.m. The homilist will be Father Santiago Rubio, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard’s.
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