Praised be Jesus Christ! I mentioned in one of my previous columns that I am a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse—that is, a diocesan (or secular) priest. In other words, I do not belong to a religious institute or order. However, that is not entirely accurate. I am a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, a branch of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans.
From the very beginning of the foundations of the Order of Preachers, there have been diocesan priests who have affiliated themselves with the Order of Preachers but without becoming Dominican friars. Before 1968, the Order (like many others) was divided into three parts: the First Order of the friars, the Second Order of the nuns, and the Third Order of laity. After 1968, the Dominicans abolished these divisions and realized that no matter how one is a Dominican, all members are part of the “Dominican Family.”
In 2014, I began formation in the Dominican tradition—learning the Dominican preaching charism and observances of the Rule—in order to formally affiliate myself with the Dominican Order through profession in the third order, what is now called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. The Priestly Fraternity is a fraternity of diocesan priests who have been urged by supernatural grace to enroll in the Order of St. Dominic and who profess a rule of life suited to their state. Profession in the Order of St. Dominic makes these priests members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. However, these priests are free for service in their own diocese and under the jurisdiction of their own bishop. They are not Dominican friars but rather “Dominican diocesan priests”—Sons of St. Dominic.
On September 14, 2016, after over two years of formation, I made my solemn profession to live according to the Rule of St. Dominic. Kneeling before the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Albert the Great of the Order of Preachers, with my hands in his hands, I made a promise that I would live according to the Rule of St. Dominic for life. Being a full member of the Order of St. Dominic, I strive each-and-every-day to be imbued with the spirit of St. Dominic so that I can pursue greater perfection before God and the world. Please know of my prayers for you all and humbly request yours for me! St. Dominic, whose feast day will be on August 8, pray for us!
You can learn more about the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic by visiting our website: www.opfraternity.org.
Hello! Some of you might be wondering more about me. Here’s some trivia: I enjoy cooking, although more for a group than for one! I also enjoy reading. Two of my favorite authors are Matthew Reilly and Morris West. Even though I was born and raised in Wisconsin, I’m not much of a football fan. I do love soccer though, both domestic (MLS and USL) and international. My favorite domestic soccer team is DC United—and that was true even before I lived in Washington, DC!—and also Loudoun United (who are not having a great season, currently sitting at the bottom of the conference). Finally, I’m a coin collector (a numismatist). My grandfather was also a coin collector and gave me first coin to collect—a Peace silver dollar—and I was hooked ever since.
You might be interested to know my assignments as a seminarian for the Diocese of La Crosse: During the summer of 2010, I was assigned abroad to the Parish of Our Lady and St. George in Walthamstow, London, England in the Diocese of Brentwood where I served the parish and its schools, and served as an assistant chaplain to Whipps Cross University Hospital, which houses one of the largest and busiest emergency departments in the United Kingdom. During the academic years of 2011–2013, I was assigned in Rome to the parish of St. Susanna where I taught confirmation for two years and served as a deacon in 2012–2013. During the summers of 2011 & 2012, I was assigned to SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Independence, Wisconsin as well as St. John the Apostle Parish in Whitehall, Wisconsin. During the summer of 2012, I also assisted at St. Ansgar Parish in Blair, Wisconsin. I look back on all of these assignments with great joy—and some difficulty, no doubt—but they helped me not only to discern my call to the priesthood but also to learn effective pastoral ministry.
In the forthcoming columns, I’ll mention a bit more about myself and my priestly assignments and what exactly it means to have a “canon lawyer” as your new pastor. I’ve been enjoying meeting all of you. If you’re around the parish offices and my door is open, please stop in and say hello. Finally, as many of you have asked: I do prefer to go by “Father Guanella” or, as the kids at Regis High School would call me: “Father G.” Thanks! Have a great week!
Hello! I am Father Alan Guanella (with a preference of being called Father Guanella) and I am your new pastor. I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you all. I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin to Greg and Carol Guanella (both enjoying retirement and often visiting me) and attended high school at Aquinas High School in La Crosse. After high school, I attended Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, Minnesota and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, also in Winona. I graduated from Saint Mary’s with a B.A. in philosophy with minors in history and theology.
I was sent by then-Bishop Jerome Listecki to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy to continue my seminary studies. I attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome where I graduated with a Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) in 2012 and a Diploma in Pastoral Theology in 2013. I was ordained a deacon at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on October 4, 2012 by Archbishop John Myers of Newark, NJ.
Upon completion of my seminary studies, I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse on June 22, 2013 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse. My first assignment was as parochial vicar (associate pastor) of St. James the Greater Parish in Eau Claire and chaplain at Regis Middle and High Schools in Eau Claire. In 2014, I was moved to be parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Parish in Altoona and St. Raymond of Peñafort Parish in Brackett, while continuing as chaplain at Regis.
In 2016, Bishop Callahan asked me to study Canon Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. I began studies there in Summer 2016 while continuing in the parishes and at Regis. I was able to move to Washington in May of 2017 and study full-time. At the end of July 2019, I finished the Licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.) and became a canon lawyer or canonist. I was then assigned to be pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Polonia and St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Parish in Custer. And now I have been assigned to be pastor here at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish. I am excited to begin my pastorate here and meet many of you. I’ll write more about myself in the coming bulletins. God bless you!