Santiago to serve in Weyauwega, Manawa
By Angie Landsverk
Rev. Xavier Santiago’s passion to experience a different culture resulted in his move from India to Wisconsin.
On Sept. 19, he become the new priest of two area parishes – Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Weyauwega and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Manawa.
He follows Amal Roche, who was the priest at both churches, as well as at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Community in Waupaca.
Today, Roche, who is also from India, remains the pastor at the Waupaca church.
Santiago explained his openness to minister here.
“I wanted different experiences,” he said. “I’m not a person to be idle, quiet. I’m a person who moves about, is doing something always.”
Ordained as a priest on April 15, 2007, Santiago belongs to the Diocese of Sivagangai, in India.
“I was an associate for three years in different places in the diocese,” he said.
From May 2010 to May 2015, he was then a pastor in that diocese.
“It was in a small place like this,” Santiago said while sitting in the office of the Weyauwega parish. “It was a new parish. I was their first pastor.”
There were 225 families in the parish, and Santiago said he worked to make it a live parish.
“Everything was new for them, new for me,” he said.
Santiago established committees at the parish and met with his bishop to talk about his interest in ministering in another country.
“I talked to my bishop,” he said. “I was looking for dioceses in the United States. Through friends, some Indian priests already working here, I got a connection with the Green Bay Diocese. My bishop approved me to proceed.”
By mid-April, Santiago learned he would be going to the Diocese of Green Bay, and when he arrived in Wisconsin in July, he knew he would be the pastor of two parishes.
Before coming here, he spent two months at St. Margaret Mary Parish, in Neenah, getting used to the culture, food and way of life.
“It was a good time to be with the pastor there,” Santiago said. “I really enjoyed their welcome. It was a very nice experience.”
In fact, he has not felt homesick.
Santiago grew up in Neivayal, a small village in the southern part of India.
When asked about the size of the village, Santiago, who is living in Manawa, said it is smaller than Manawa.
His parents are farmers, and he has one brother and one sister. Both of his siblings are married, and Santiago has one nephew and one niece.
Santiago attended a public elementary school through third grade and a Catholic school from fourth through eighth grades.
“During eighth grade, I had an inspiration to become a priest by the inspiration of my friends in the school and the priest leading the parish,” he said.
At age 14, he went into the seminary.
“I did four years of school studying in the seminary and then three years of formation after that and then three years of philosophy and four years of theology,” he said. “Altogether, I had some 14 years in formation.”
As the new pastor at the two area churches, he spent his first Sunday in both communities saying Mass with Roche.
Santiago intends to look at both the Sunday and weekly Mass schedules at both parishes and said, “I want to be with the people, become more social. I enjoy being here.”