Former doctor transitions from healing bodies to healing souls as Crosier priest

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Fr. Alex Juguilon, OSC, was ordained as the newest priest for the Crosier Fathers and Bothers May 26 at St. Gregory Parish. (Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)
Crosier Fathers and Brothers

Crosiers share in the conventual form of religious life. Living together for God alone, they are vowed men who seek to combine contemplative routines with a shared apostolic life. Crosier charism centers on a commitment to live and work in community, to celebrate the prayer of the Church (both through the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours), and to serve the people of God in light of the Cross of Christ as a sign of hope and glory.

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For the Crosiers’ newest priest, Fr. Alex Juguilon, OSC, holy orders wasn’t on his radar. The 48-year-old former doctor hadn’t even been to a church in three years when he first felt a tugging on his heart.

“I was working as a doctor, was in a serious relationship, living with my girlfriend and from the outside it looked like, ‘Well, he has his world together, he’s got a career, he’s in a serious relationship, he’s got material things,’” Fr. Juguilon recalled. “We had a condo, a nice car, and I was not feeling fulfilled.”

He remembered telling his mother and she challenged him to give everything over to God and advised going to Adoration.

“I didn’t even know what Adoration was. … I think I did a holy five minutes. I said ‘God, my mom said You can make crooked paths straight. Well, if this is true, well here are the rules,’” he said asking God to help him with his exhaustion at work, mounting debt and the courage to end his relationship. “‘And, oh yeah, if you want me to start practicing the faith again, let me meet a nice Catholic girl.’

Within a month things started to happen and I did meet a nice Catholic girl who got me to go to church again. Thing is, she was a nun and on the first day I met her, she said, ‘Alex, I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I think you’re called to be a priest.’ And that’s the first time I heard that.”

EN ESPAÑOL: Cruzado ordenado como sacerdote

 

Newly ordained Fr. Alex Juguilon, OSC, offers the holy Eucharist to his mother, Felicitas Juguilon, at his Ordination Mass May 26 at St. Gregory Parish. (Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)

The Filipino-born priest who grew up in the Cleveland metro area began looking at different religious orders. The Crosiers’ fraternity drew him in.

“They made time to spend with one another, they teased one another, they laughed, and it reminded me of a lot of that same dynamic that I had with my family growing up,” said Fr. Juguilon. “Our life is really steeped in community. We believe it’s a corporate journey to God together, we say, ‘For God alone together.’ It’s in that community where you have the rubs that can sanctify you.”

Upon entering the community, in addition to attending St. John Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota, then-Br. Alex served in the order’s development and vocations offices. While initially hesitant to work in development because he was afraid of asking for money, he soon discovered “it was about building relationships.”

Fr. Tom Carkhuff, OSC, along with other Crosier priests prays over the newly ordained Fr. Alex Juguilon, OSC May 26 at St. Gregory Parish. Fr. Tom served as Fr. Alex’s formator throughout his discernment with the Crosier Fathers and Brothers. (Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)

In his vocations work, he’s had to learn that, “It’s not my vocation, it’s their vocation. Of course, I would like every man to be a Crosier who is discerning religious life or the call of the priesthood. But in the end, it’s not about me and it’s not about my calling, it’s about their call.”

Upon his Ordination as a deacon last year, then-Br. Alex was assigned to St. Gregory Parish and School in Phoenix, where he is continuing to serve as a priest. He currently leads the parish’s RCIA program and teaches religion to sixth, seventh and eighth grades at the school once a week.

“I wanted to be more involved in the school and I wanted to be present,” Fr. Juguilon recalled, noting that a teacher suggested he meet the students during recess.

Fr. Tom Enneking, OSC, prior provincial for the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, prays over the newly ordained Fr. Alex Juguilon, OSC, the order’s newest priest May 26 at St. Gregory Parish. (Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)

Though he was concerned they’d be intimidated by him wearing his Crosier habit, instead they “would come up and give me a hug and some of them would even say, ‘Hey Deacon, can you give me a blessing?’ … And to this day, the students, I’m very touched by how they’ve accepted me and just let me be a part of their lives when I’m there.”

Although Fr. Juguilon is still learning Spanish, he said he’s also been welcomed by the parish’s Hispanic community. He also hopes to be more involved with the Filipino community in the diocese, despite his poor Tagalog.

Fr. Alex advised those discerning a vocation, to “not be afraid to trust in God. … You can never out-do God in generosity and kindness, and if that’s what He’s calling you to, it’s a really good life, it’s a special life.”