I was ordained two years ago but the thrill of
that event is still very fresh and alive in my
heart and mind … on January 2, 2001, at
more or less 11:00 AM when Cardenal Darío Castrillón Hoyos
said the prayer of priestly consecration.
|Father Alexandre Paciolli, LC, the day he was ordained a priest.|
Before the Call
born in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil, on December 12,
1968. By the grace of God I am a Guadalupan
and it is to her, Our Lady of Guadalupe, that
I owe my Legionary vocation for which I am extremely
We are a currently a family of five: my
dad, my sister and two brothers. My parents were born
near Fortaleza. They grew up in an environment of great
faith and a continuous struggle to get by and improve
their standard of living. I learned so much from them,
especially a love for challenges and to never settle for
what you have already accomplished.
I was always mischievous but
after so many practical jokes and pranks it was time
to redeem myself. I began to study in earnest so
I could enter a military school at ten years of
age. There I learned what discipline and good behavior were
all about. After four years at the Military School of
Fortaleza I decided that I wanted to become an officer.
I really liked the Air Force because my brother was
a fighter pilot and my brother-in-law a pilot so I
decided to follow in their footsteps. My parents were elated.
I took the necessary tests for the Navy and the
Army and I passed them but not that of the
Air Force. God had other plans. So I entered the
a Naval Academy and a whole new set of adventures
began. God’s plan for my life gradually was beginning to
The Call to the Priesthood Comes Knocking
to the Naval Academy at fifteen years of age. I
left my hometown of Fortaleza and off I went alone
to Rio de Janeiro. This was a huge challenge. I
had to make it on my own and live up
to what my parents expected of me.
My first year
in the Naval Academy was very difficult. The chapel was
a refuge for me from the arduous rhythm of life.
God in his infinite wisdom knew how to “take advantage”
of this situation so he could sew in my heart
a love for him.
|Father Alexandre entered the Naval military academy of Brazil at fifteen years of age. Here he is with his dad.|
In 1987 the chaplain invited me
to organize a retreat. Another great challenge! I gave a
talk on the Prodigal Son (I hadn’t the foggiest idea
where the passage was in the Bible). As I was
giving the talk a number of people, including myself, began
to cry as they reflected on their sins. The experience
of my own mediocrity was amazingly strong and the grace
of God even more. The retreat passed on but the
grace of God had touched my heart.
A few days
later a friend told me: “Alexandre, I was just thinking
about the priesthood.” That same idea had been coming to
my mind as well. He then asked me: “Are you
going to become a priest?” I told him: “Never!”
Here began the struggle between God and Alexandre Paciolli.
I did not want to have anything to do with
God´s call. He would keep insisting. I was half-way through
my second year at the Naval Academy in the year
1987. I tried to escape his call by devoting myself
to sports. First it was track and field: shot put,
discus, javelin, 100 meters. I got tired of that and
went for volleyball. After a while I found that to
be be too slow. Then it was water-polo and I
wound up becoming the goalie. However God´s call was still
loud and clear. He just would not leave me be.
So I tried some other sports that were a bit
more adventuresome like deep-sea fishing and high-risk island camping, etc.
Anything to avoid hearing God´s voice -- but his soft
interior voice stayed with me.
Afterwards I opted for windsurfing, thinking
that I had finally found the way to definitively escape
from God. I fell in love with this sport and
God gave me the grace and talent to really excel.
I was winning more and more competitions, named captain of
my team and I was as happy as could be.
Still, God´s voice was there.
Another plan for forgetting about
God came to my mind: finding a girlfriend from Copacabana.
The plan seemed to be working because one of my
friends invited me to go with him one day and
there I was introduced to a wonderful young lady who
would play a substantial role in my vocation. She became
my girlfriend and we even began thinking of getting married.
But God would not quit: "Alexandre, I want you to
be a priest." I just kept trying to escape.
|January 2, 2001 he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Darío Castrillón during the festivities of the LX anniversary of the foundation of the Legion of Christ.|
Came Across the Legion of Christ
I was at a stage
in my life where I was pretty much at peace
because I felt as if I had finally escaped the
threat of a vocation. Then, during a Sunday Mass with
my girlfriend, I noticed that the priest who was celebrating
the Eucharist, Father Javier Sicilia, LC, did it with such
fervor and joy. I was really impressed. He later introduced
me to Father Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, the Regnum Christi
Movement´s young mens section direction in Rio de Janeiro.
then tried to really get my attention. I was preparing
for a very important sailing competition in Rio de Janeiro
and at one point a very dangerous storm broke out
over the ocean. An enormous wave crashed into my boat;
I lost everything I had in it and was thrown
from the boat. There was an oil carrier coming right
for me. My brother appeared out of nowhere in a
motor boat and carried me off to safety. This experience
helped me to realize just how short life really is,
and it showed me that I needed to do something
more for Christ with my life. And so I decided
to incorporate into the Regnum Christi Movement.
Regnum Christi Incorporation
Robles Gil helped me a great deal by means of
frequent spiritual direction. Before I really saw what was happening,
I became seriously involved in a few apostolates for Christ
with the aid of a shepherd who was truly interested
in my personal sanctification. I really felt at home in
Regnum Christi and I once again felt the call of
the priesthood ... but my girlfriend and the Navy still
had a hold on me.
Then I was involved in
a second life-threatening boat accident. I was invited to participate
in the South American Sailing Championships. On our way there
another storm suddenly arose when we were about twenty kilometers
from the shore. The waves were at least 6 meters
high and we felt like little pieces of paper being
thrown about in the wind. Our boat, approximately 20 meters
high, tipped over. I was in the bow and I
wasn´t wearing a seat belt. I fell into the water
but in God´s grace my foot got caught on a
cord. I was dragged about for a few minutes but
I managed to get myself back to the boat and
help my teammates stand the boat up again. It was
an unforgettable experience. We wound up winning the South American
Sailing Championship and yet we saw death staring us in
the face. Time and eternity. In that moment I decided
that I would become a priest.
God´s Final Push
returned to Rio de Janeiro I got caught up in
all of the honors and awards that came with our
victory as well as the invitation to participate in a
race around the world. Once again I began to resist
the idea of the priesthood. My egoism just would not
leave me be. Yet God was ready this time.
punch arrived when I least expected it. I was walking
through the park with my girlfriend when she suddenly said:
"Alexandre, can I ask you a question?" I told her
of course. She then asked me:"Haven´t you ever thought of
becoming a priest?" I couldn´t believe it! It was like
a bucket of freezing water. God´s loving punch finally hit
me: "I want you to be a priest please accept
this beautiful call!" I still fought some but I finally
gave in: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do
your will." My commanding officers and my parents were by
no means thrilled with my decision.
As a Legionary
ask me whether or not I am happy. I would
have to say No. No, I am not happy. I
am VERY HAPPY! My family grew to accept my vocation
after about six years. I later had the grace, about
two months after my ordination, to offer the Mass during
my mother´s funeral after she died of cancer. She passed
on full of peace, happy and an incorporated member of
God expects an answer out of each
and every one of us. All we have to do
is trust and he will take care of the rest.