By: Roxanne Schorbach
On January 9, 2017, Fr. Victor Alejandro Mejia Dominguez, mccj stopped by the Covina Mission Center. Fr. Victor is originally from La Paz, Baja California Sur in Mexico. During his brief visit to the Comboni Mission Center, I was able to sit down with him and learn his vocation story.
Victor was just 8-years old when he first felt the call to become a priest. His parish priest, Fr. Gonzalez, who had gone through formation with the Comboni Missionaries, was the first to offer Victor a taste of mission.
One Christmas Fr. Gonzalez took several of the altar boys on a mission trip to one of the many small islands in Baja. There they visited some local families. The young boys brought clothes, toys, and games to the island and each stayed with a family for a week. Victor remembers how excited he was to go on that mission trip - giving up his own presents and Christmas with his family.
The small group left early from their homes, crossed the desert, and after several hours finally reached the beach, then boarded a small boat. They crossed the water and came to Isla Margarita, a small fishing island.
Victor stayed with a family who adopted him for that week. He remembers the strong feeling of complete welcome and, as if, he were part of the family. This was a great experience for him and one that he remembers very clearly.
There was a girl that asked him “why are you here?” He responded, “I don’t know exactly but my friend is Jesus,” to which the young girl said, “Jesus is my friend too.” Those few words were the start of a lifelong friendship.
During his time on that island, Victor realized that he had not thought about his own family, and recognized the love and feeling of belonging to another family other than his own. In those early days, he had no idea what it meant to be a priest but he knew in his heart that he wanted to become a missionary. Looking back at that week, he said that it was the “most memorable week of his childhood.”
Fr. Victor said the most important thing is to know Jesus, and to know others who also know and love Jesus, not to force or coerce others to know Him.
After returning from the mission trip his mother and grandmother helped Victor to become more involved with their parish. He reflected on how God puts people and circumstances in our lives to help us through our life journey. His grandmother was instrumental in helping him find his way to fulfill his calling to the priesthood.
During his teenage years he worked with the youth as a leader and peer. During this time he learned the necessary social skills to work with people. This helped him transition to the next phase of his life, where at 18-years old he made the decision to become a Comboni Missionary.
Why did he choose the Comboni Missionaries? His mother took him to a parish where there were Comboni Missionaries, and many, many pictures of people from around the world. He was thrilled!
It was there that an old priest gave him some sound advice. The priest said, “If you are really serious to be a missionary I suggest that you stay home until you finish high school, because for many years you will not see your parents or your relatives so better you spend the time with them now.” That sound advice really helped him.
After high school, Victor left La Paz to go to Mexico City to join the Comboni Missionaries for his studies. Mexico City was his first experience in a big city and that helped him to have “an open heart and an open mind.” Once his studies in Mexico were completed, Victor was sent to Rome for four years of theology. Afterwards, he returned to Mexico and was ordained on August 19, 2000.
His first assignment was China. Fr. Victor had one year in England to study English then five years in Taiwan where he studied Chinese Mandarin at the University. He spent four years helping at a local parish to further his education and familiarity with the culture.
Fr. Victor said the biggest challenge was learning and understanding the culture because it is so different from his own. Their way of thinking, solving problems and doing things is much harder to understand then the language.
The interview was cut short since he was leaving for Hong Kong. In closing, Fr. Victor left a message for the youth: “Don’t be afraid, follow what is in your heart and follow your dreams, trust in God and always know that Jesus is in your life.”