If you’ve been on the St. Paul campus recently, you might have noticed the tall, thin man in white robes stationed at Campus Ministry. This man is Vincent Dávila, O.P., the new chaplain.
Father Vincent, who lovingly refers to himself as a “baby priest” — since he was only ordained in May — began his work at St. Catherine University this August. However, in the less than three months since his arrival, he has accomplished a lot on campus, including reintroducing daily mass and starting a weekly Bible study club.
Father Vincent setting up for Mass in Our Lady of Victory Chapel. Photo by Kristen Wunderlich.
He also performs sacramental needs for the St. Kate’s community, such as confession, and leads the campus ministry student workers, helps organize events and offers guidance to students of all faiths. In addition to his current duties, he hopes to introduce faith sharing groups — small, student-led meetings centered around building a community of faith.
“My hope is that by offering these services,” Father Vincent said, “I can better help the community grow in their faith and their relationships with God.”
The stars seemed to align to bring Father Vincent to St. Kate’s. After being hired as a part-time theology professor at the University of St. Thomas, one of his colleagues mentioned that he should inquire at St. Kate’s for other part-time work.
“Sure enough, St. Kate’s was looking to fill the chaplain position, which had been vacant for some time,” says Father Vincent. “For me, it couldn’t be a better fit. Working as a professor and a chaplain combines my two great loves, teaching and preaching. Working with college students is particularly attractive to me, given how important campus ministry was during my own college years.”
The road to chaplaincy was a winding one for Father Vincent. Emigrating from Madrid, Spain at the age of six, Father Vincent and his family moved to Indiana where he attended Purdue University as a mechanical engineering major.
“I wanted to design Formula One racecars,” he recalled. “I was fascinated by how math and science could come together in such an exciting real-world application.”
It was while attending school that he got involved with the Dominicans, who ran the campus ministry at Purdue. Through them he discovered a love of preaching, but was hesitant to switch gears from engineering until he could be certain that it was not the right path. That opportunity presented itself in the form of an internship designing airplane engines.
“It was as if God had dropped the internship in my lap,” he said. “I was given the chance to see what life would be like with my dream job. But after actually experiencing it, I realized I hated it. I would spend all day watching the clock, waiting for the day to end. After that internship, I finished my undergraduate degree and immediately began studying to be a priest.”
Seven years of study to be exact.
In addition to acquiring master’s degrees in theology and philosophy from Aquinas Institute of Theology and St. Louis University, respectively, Father Vincent also spent a year in Denver, shadowing a mentor and learning the ropes of priesthood. After all the studying and hard work, it was this experience that cemented in him the desire to become ordained.
Mass with Father Vincent
Location: Our Lady of Victory Chapel