For Fr. Martin Rangel-Garcia, who was ordained on May 26, the call to the priesthood began as a youth. Born one of six children in Guadalupe, Chihuahua, in Mexico, he moved to the United States as a child. He went to elementary school in Queen Creek and attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish before his family moved to Texas when he was in high school.
Fr. Rangel-Garcia said his home was a “very propitious environment” for his vocation.
“I was attracted to everything that happened in church,” he said. “We are devout Catholics. I grew up surrounded by devotions, the Rosary, Posadas — we had all of that [in] our house.”
Still, even after his family returned to Queen Creek and Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as St. Mary Parish in Chandler, he didn’t think about attending the seminary until his early 20s.
“It didn’t work out,” Fr. Rangel-Garcia said.
Fr. Rangel-Garcia said he discovered the Latin Mass in 2000 by accident, when his father gave him an old Spanish hymnal.
“I had always been a sacristan and I knew the ordinary of the Mass very well, but I never knew there had been a different Latin Mass,” he said. “I noticed that the ordinary of the Mass was very different than what I was used to and grew up with.”
Vocation story retold
He asked his parish priest to explain the liturgical changes since the Second Vatican Council to him. Rangel-Garcia discovered there was a Latin Mass celebrated nearby and immediately fell in love with the Mass after participating in it.
As he began exploring the idea of priesthood, he knew he wanted to join a religious community because he was attracted to community life, community prayer and wearing a habit. Rangel-Garcia finally discerned joining the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter — a community of priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together to serve the Church by celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, or Latin Mass.
He entered the fraternity’s seminary in Denton, Nebraska, in 2011 and after a year of intense spiritual formation, two years of philosophy and four years of theology, he was ordained there.
Fr. Rangel-Garcia said he enjoys being part of the fraternity because he likes praying with his brothers and preserving the Tridentine Liturgy, something he said “belongs to every Catholic.”
“It is something that belongs to the Church, but was being lost,” Fr. Rangel-Garcia said. “I wanted to be a part of that restoration and make it available to everyone,” he said.
Mass of Thanksgiving at Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix
After two months in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, his first permanent priestly assignment is in Mexico City at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in the downtown area. He said he is very excited, too.
“Mexico used to be very Catholic,” Fr. Rangel-Garcia said. “Many have left the Church not only to join other Christian groups, but have left the faith all together. I want to be part of the missionaries, per se, that will re-evangelize this beautiful country.”