St. Vincent de Paul Parish
- Contact: 4080 Hawk St., San Diego 619-299-3880 www.vincentcatholic.org
- Membership: 300 (families)
- Pastor: Father Alex De Paulis
- Age: 40
- Born: Las Vegas, NV
- Formation: University of Nevada-Las Vegas; Point Loma Nazarene University; University of San Diego; Mt. Angels Seminary, Benedict, OR.
- Years Ordained: 6
San Diego Reader: Why did you become a priest?
Father Alex De Paulis: I grew up church-hopping around different Protestant denominations and one of the last ones, before I became Catholic, was called the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and they had married clergy. I saw these priests who were men of God, loved God, and knew how to pray. They also loved their wives and families. They were good role models and they got me praying about the idea of being a priest. They always said, “You’re going to get married; don’t worry about that. But God is asking you how you are going to serve his people.” After I entered the Catholic Church, I was visiting an old mentor friend of mine at a Catholic church in Alabama. During Mass, there was a quick moment when God was asking me in my heart to be his priest. I can’t really put my finger on it but I knew that I knew that I knew.
SDR: Why Catholicism?
FDP: In Catholicism, I like how you trace everything back to Jesus as a connecting point, as opposed to some other founder. There is a history of theology that stays connected too. I was also drawn to Catholicism by what we call the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament – the real presence of God par excellence. I could feel God’s presence when I was at home praying, but in a Catholic Church, I could feel it more immediately, when I was in the presence of the Eucharist.
SDR: Did you find it a sacrifice to know you weren’t going to be able to marry as a Catholic priest?
FDP: Every day, that is a sacrifice. It definitely hasn’t gotten any easier, but I feel called first and foremost to be a priest, and the celibacy I accepted along the way is a sacrifice and a way to grow in love for God and his people.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FDP: Our mission is basically to continue the ministry and presence of Jesus in Mission Hills, the mission of reconciliation. We’re open to growing as disciples of Jesus, continuing his presence in the world and continuing that mission of reconciliation.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FDP: According to Church teaching, when I die, God willing, I’ll come face to face with God. I will go to God and I want to be with him; but if my love is still lacking, I will first go to purgatory to be healed from my many wounds and allow my love to grow and transform into God’s love, so that my love is like God’s love, and I’ll be ready for heaven with God for all eternity. But if we don’t want to be with him — and we express that desire in our life now on earth — then he’s not going to force us to be with him. Right now, things are cloudy, but after death and when we’re in God’s presence, we’ll see very clearly what heaven is like and what hell is like. Being outside the presence of God is going to be pure hell – pure suffering – because God is life, God is love, God is everything we were made for.