From Racecars to Robes

From Racecars to Robes

Father Vincent Dávila was only ordained last May, but his wisdom is evident, and his faith is strong. As a child, he left Spain and learned English — and eventually fell in love with preaching. This self-proclaimed “baby priest” reflects on his winding path toward his vocation and new role as St. Catherine University’s chaplain.
By Kristen Wunderlich

Q: What brought you to St. Kate’s?

It was like the stars aligned. Last summer, I was hired as a part-time theology professor at the University of St. Thomas when one of my colleagues mentioned that I should look into St. Kate’s for other part-time work. Sure enough, there was a position open! Working as a professor and a chaplain combines my two great loves: teaching and preaching. My time with students Campus Ministry student workers— helping to organize events and offering guidance to students of all faiths. My hope is that I can better help the community grow in their faith and their relationships with God.

Q: What does your role entail?

Since beginning my position in August, I’ve reintroduced daily Mass and started a weekly Bible study club. I am also responsible for performing sacramental needs for the St. Kate’s community, such as confession, and leading the Campus Ministry student workers—helping to organize events and offering guidance to students of all faiths. My hope is that I can better help the community grow in their faith and their relationships with God.

Q: You moved from Spain to Indiana as a child. What was that like?

When I was six years old, my family emigrated from Madrid, and I sort of hit the ground running. I didn’t speak very much English, so had to adapt to a new language and new cultural norms simultaneously. It was certainly a challenge, but I think overcoming adversity at a young age prepared me well for facing the seven years of study it took to become a priest.

Q: How did you go from studying mechanical engineering to the priesthood?

I wanted to design Formula One racecars because I was fascinated by how math and science could come together in such an exciting application. It was during my time at Purdue University that I met the Dominicans, who ran the campus ministry. Through them, I discovered a love of preaching, but was hesitant to switch gears from engineering until I could be certain that it was not the right path.

When I got an internship designing airplane engines, I felt as though God had dropped the answer on my lap. After being given the chance to see what life would look like with my dream job, 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.

Q: How do you balance our institution’s roots in Catholicism and your background as a priest when interacting with non-Catholic students in our community?

The key for me is accepting my genuine identity as a Catholic while also respecting individual traditions, differences and circumstances. St. Kate’s calls us to work toward social justice and to become good leaders and good neighbors. These are tenants that we can all identify with, regardless of faith.

Q: What are your future plans as chaplain?

I hope to introduce faith-sharing groups — small, student-led meetings centered around building a community of faith where students could come together to grow in their personal and communal connections with God. I think it’s important that people seek out a relationship with God not only in traditional settings such as Mass, but in intimate settings where they can reflect with their peers on how God has touched their daily lives.


Our Lady of Victory Chapel
Room 103

8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday

11:30 a.m.–noon Monday–Friday

12:05 p.m.–12:45 p.m. Monday–Friday
10:30 a.m. Sunday

Photos by Rebecca Slater '10, by Rebecca Studios. 

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