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Building the City of God

Fr. Jose Alvarez

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Born Nov. 11, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, Father Alvarez came to Miami with his parents and older sister in 1967. He grew up in St. John Bosco Parish, Little Havana, and entered the seminary at age 36. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Miami on May 10, 2003. Before joining the seminary staff in September, 2004, he served as associate pastor of St. Brendan Parish in Westchester. He also hosts the Spanish and English language television programs produced by the archdiocese which air on Cable-TAP in Miami-Dade County.

Currently Fr. Alvarez is Pastor at Epiphany Church.

What he did before becoming a priest:

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theatre and spent a decade as an actor and director,doing theater, television commercials and films: “Blink-and-you’ll-miss-me kind of things.” He then spent 15 years as a teacher and coach at his alma maters, Sts. Peter and Paul School and La Salle High School in Miami.

When he knew he wanted to be a priest:

“When I had matured enough … I dated enough that I could have married. I thought about it a couple of times. But I thought the lifestyle was too restricted. … I always felt that I needed to be freer to engage in ministry. I would have driven my wife nuts.”

What he would be doing if he had not become a priest:

“The same thing I was doing before, teaching and coaching. I loved it. It wasn’t like I became a priest because I was miserable doing what I was doing before. I just felt called to do this.”

Who was most surprised by his vocation:

“Myself. It’s funny, not too many people were surprised. … At one time I had a girlfriend who would say to me, ‘Stop talking to me with that priest’s voice of yours.’”

What the seminary did not prepare him for:

“I haven’t been too surprised by anything I’ve seen in ministry. I spent 10 years in the entertainment industry and worked with coaches. I was ready for anything.”

‘I admire Jesus, the way he lived, the fact that he was a regular guy, a people’s man. He found joy and life in the little things and helped people discover that. ’

Favorite priestly assignment:

“They’re all good. As long as you give me people, I’m happy.”

Greatest joy:

“Hanging out with Jesus; hanging out with people; enjoying the little things of life. That’s what it’s about.”

His description of the ideal priest:

“You need to be a regular guy. … What gives credibility to the faith is not what you do but how you relate to people. Jesus changed history not so much because of what he did but because of the way he related to the people who came to him. He showed them that within every ordinary event, the extraordinary was hidden there. That’s my whole spirituality, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Father Alvarez, a “sports junkie,” takes in Marlins games whenever he can.

Priestly stereotype that should be discarded:

“That a priest is a certain way. The best thing we bring to the priesthood is who we are, and we’re all so different.”

Most difficult aspect of being a priest:

“Shattering some of these very limited notions of what a priest is.”

On the “Drama and Ministry” course he devised and teaches to seminarians:

“Drama and ministry are both centered on conflict. By studying drama, we become more attuned to the conflicts that we address in ministry.”

What he does on his days off:

“I’m a huge sports fan, so on my days off, if the Marlins are playing, I’m at the stadium.”

Favorite TV series:

“I watch ESPN. … I’m a sports junkie.”

Favorite type of music:

“I’m probably the only Cuban who listens to American folk and blue grass.”

Person he most admires:

“Jesus. I admire Jesus, the way he lived, the fact that he was a regular guy, a people’s man. He found joy and life in the little things and helped people discover that.”

Thing he most fears:

“At the end of my life, not being as giving as I perhaps could have been. But Jesus is very merciful and he can be at peace with that, so I don’t lose too much sleep over it. I’ll bank on his mercy.”

Hobbies:

“Watching sports, music, movies. I love to travel. I love to eat.”

Regrets:

None. “All the ladies come hug me, kiss me, and I send them home with somebody else. How could I have any regrets? I have the best of all worlds.”