After nine years without ordinations, Argentine diocese has a new priest. Here’s his story

Father Alexis Oser Father Alexis Oser. | Credit: Press Diocese of Alto Valle de Río Negro

After nine years without priestly ordinations, the Diocese of Alto Valle de Río Negro in Argentina on May 1 celebrated the ordination of Father Alexis Oser, 27.

Bishop Alejandro Benna of Alto Valle presided over the ordination ceremony, which took place at the cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in General Roca, the city where the new priest will carry out his ministry.

The last ordination for the diocese was that of Father Vicente Alberto Bó in 2014, who died in 2021 from COVID-19.

Oser’s mother works in a hospital as an orderly and his father is retired from the oil industry. He has two siblings, and although his background is Catholic, his family was not practicing the faith.

Speaking with the “Rio Negro” portal, the young priest acknowledged that his vocation “was born in the missions and among the sick” and that “it’s a gift, a gift from God.”

“One simply has to open up to that grace, to be available,” he said.

Born in the city of Catriel, at age 7 he began to attend Missionary Childhood (a worldwide organization of Catholic youth) in a poor neighborhood of his town.

That experience — as well as meeting a nun named Nieves — made an impact on his life. He was just a boy when he began to “know Jesus and call him a friend,” Oser recounted.

The call to a vocation began to take shape when at age 15 he visited a terminally ill patient with leukemia at a hospital in the city of Cinco Saltos along with a parish priest who, accompanied by a seminarian, was administering the sacrament of anointing of the sick to the patients.

At that time, Oser felt that science and medicine were not enough to end people’s suffering.

A priest from where he grew up was the spiritual director who guided him until he was 18, when he decided to begin priestly formation.

He first served at the Jesus the Good Shepherd Seminary in Río Cuarto in Córdoba province, and then he transferred to Buenos Aires, where he continued his formation at the St. Peter and St. Paul Patagonian Seminary until 2021.

During those years, he worked in parishes in the Buenos Aires neighborhoods of Mataderos, Saavedra, and Villa Crespo.

That same year, he returned to Río Negro where on May 25, 2022, he was ordained a deacon and was sent to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in General Roca.

“My destination so far, and as long as God says so, will be here in Roca,” Oser said.

“Coming after me are four more guys who are in different years of formation,” the new ordinand said. Currently, the Patagonian region is the one with the largest number of seminarians in formation.

At this time, the Church in Alto Valle de Río Negro has 25 priests — 17 of whom came from other dioceses. In the last 30 years, only eight ordinations have been celebrated in the diocese, which was erected in 1993. The diocese serves about 264,000 Catholics (according to 2020 data) covering approximately 14,300 square miles.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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