There’s a new face leading some of the masses at the Catholic churches in the Fennimore area. Father Miguel Galvez arrived in July and has since been performing masses in Latin as well as English at the churches in Fennimore, Castle Rock and Mount Hope. He is also lending his expertise to religious education classes, taking pleasure in getting to know the people around him, and working in tandem with longtime priest, Father George Horath.
Father Galvez grew up in Murcia, Spain, one of the country’s largest cities in the southeastern part, near the coast. He lived there until he was about 11, at which time his parents—professors who had received a grant to work abroad—moved his family to the United States. The Galvezes and their four children settled in Albuquerque, N.M., where his parents started their vocations in research at the University of New Mexico.
“We didn’t really travel much in Spain. We hadn’t even been to Madrid,” said Galvez, who is the oldest of his siblings. “We had a beautiful house on the beach, and we went there on weekends. We were a close family.”
In the U.S., the children enrolled in school and started to learn the English language. Galvez said his family liked their new country so much that they decided to stay for three years instead of one.
“We traveled very much here,” he said, naming Colorado and White Sands National Park in New Mexico as a few of their favorite destinations. “My dad wanted to explore. It was then that I fell in love with the U.S.”
Eventually, the Galvezes’ grant expired, and the family moved back to Spain. In their home country again, young Miguel Galvez was entering the ninth grade. He said he remembers thinking a lot about going back to the U.S. that year. By the time he entered 10th grade, his uncle, Father Alfonzo Galvez, had founded a religious order called the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest.
“He worked with youth and was looking for possible vocations to the priesthood in young men,” Galvez said. “Because of my uncle, I would attend summer camps, and I loved it. We went hiking, played sports, watched movies, prayed and studied together. I began to sense my calling to the priesthood. In 11th grade, he told me he was starting a private school in New Jersey. Wanting to go back to the U.S., I agreed to attend. I eventually became the first to graduate from Shoreless Lake School.”
Galvez said the school started very small, with him as the only student. He received one-on-one attention, similar to having private tutors, at this school he described as having very high academic standards.
“I developed a love for studying,” he said.
Following his 11th and 12th grade years and his graduation from Shoreless Lake, Galvez attended Rutgers University in New Jersey. Already a member of the religious society, he was able to live in the boarding school while taking classes. After one year at Rutgers, Galvez moved back to Spain to live in the motherhouse of the order. There, he attended the University of Navar and studied philosophy, education and theology. He graduated and was ordained a deacon in 2001.
His first assignment was a surprise, as he became an educator at Shoreless Lake in Spain, where the school had moved to (from New Jersey). He spent five years teaching at the institution and also participating in the vocation of the children.
“On weekends I would say mass at this little church with only five or six little old ladies. They were very sweet. It became like a small family there,” Galvez said.
In 2006, his uncle assigned Galvez to again travel to the U.S. for work within the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. His uncle wanted to start expanding the society throughout the U.S., so Galvez and another priest from Ecuador made their way to Wisconsin. They had met and discussed their styles with many dioceses in the country and decided to settle in the Madison diocese because both parties felt it was a good fit.
“Bishop Morlino was very friendly and very open to us,” Galvez stated.
That year, Galvez and Father Faustino began their exciting new venture in Sauk City at St. Aloysius parish. There, Faustino was Galvez’s parochial vicar, while Galvez served as associate pastor.
“He had more experience, but he also had more of a language barrier,” Galvez explained. “We worked well together.”
After two years in Sauk City, Galvez was transferred to St. Norbert’s in Roxbury (Dane County), where he spent another two years before moving to Platteville. In Platteville, he became the pastor at St. Augustine University Parish for a short time before hearing in June of this year that he was being transferred to Fennimore.
“Some assistance was needed here and I was anxious for the opportunity,” he added. “Father Horath has been here for many years and I always joke about that. The first homily I preached here, I said my goal is to stay here for 36 years. Father Horath is a very good man and a very holy man, and he has been very helpful to me. The faith in this community is because of his good leadership and example.”
Since arriving in Fennimore, Galvez has found the community to be “beautiful.”
“I love it,” he said. “The people here are very faithful to the parish and their eucharistic chapel. In my other parishes, I’ve experienced eucharistic adoration once a week, but never 24/7. Having the chapel for 15 years is something I know brings many blessings. Constant adoration is something God rewards. I only have good things to say about this area.”
Now as a priest serving St. Mary’s in Fennimore, St. John Nepomuc in Castle Rock, and St. Lawrence O’Toole in Mount Hope, Galvez is keeping busy. He serves locally seven days a week.
He says morning mass Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6:30 a.m. in Latin and morning mass Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. in English. He assists with religious ed classes on Wednesdays and Sundays. He also preaches at the masses said by Father Horath on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m. and Saturdays at 4 p.m.
“I have to work in my prayers and I have to find time to develop my own spiritual life,” Galvez pointed out. “I do an hour of meditation in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, every day. I say mass at the nursing home on Fridays at 3 p.m. and I also have to find time to do a lot of paperwork, preparing for my homilies.”
“I’m enjoying my time here. I hope to stay,” he said. “Most people forget that a priest is also a human being. Most would like to establish in one place. I would like to work on some long-term projects here.”
Currently, Father Galvez is living in Platteville with other priests in the Catholic community, as family life and prayer as a group is very important in the society, which has now expanded to include seven priests.
In his free time, Galvez said his hobbies include computers, hiking, geocaching, skiing and reading. He said he has fished a little bit but is interested in learning more about the popular local pastime of hunting.
Galvez said he is also a football fan— European football that is, so he doesn’t plan to enter into the Packers/Bears debate anytime soon.