By Lindsay Steele
“Are you really a priest?”
This is a question Father Guillermo Trevino fields almost every time he goes to a comic convention to meet his favorite pro-wrestlers.
Costumed attendees are a common sight at these conventions — more popularly known as comic-cons — which occur across the country and feature panels and photo ops with the stars and creators of popular television shows, movies, video games, entertainment sports and comic books. Naturally, fellow comic- con-goers assume Fr. Trevino’s clerics are a costume, too.
Even the stars like Hulk Hogan have been fooled — Fr. Trevino admits that ordained priests aren’t a common sight at comic-con. But the priest has enjoyed pro-wrestling since he was a child. His parents, Maria and the late Guillermo, Sr., met at a show and passed that interest onto their son. “I’m just there to enjoy the conventions like everyone else.”
Sure, he could go to the events in street clothes, but he believes he’d be missing out on an opportunity to evangelize and show that priests are unique individuals with a variety of hobbies and interests. “It’s a conversation starter,” he said.
When Fr. Trevino explains to someone that he is, in fact, a priest, it can be a little awkward. Recently, he crossed paths with convention guest Chloe Bennet, star of the television show Agents of Shield. Bennet joked that she must be in trouble if a priest was at the convention!
But Fr. Trevino, 30, doesn’t want people to feel intimidated just because he’s dressed in black. With his warm smile and disarming laugh, he reassures those who start a conversation — especially those who feel a little uncomfortable — that God loves them and is forgiving.
Overall, he feels very welcomed at the conventions and has had a number of conversations with people while waiting in line for photo ops or autographs. They tend to ask about Fr. Trevino’s life and share their own stories about faith.
He has no way of knowing if he’s started anyone on a path to conversion or a return to the church, but he feels good about the ability to be a Catholic presence to such a varied group of individuals. He postulates, “People like to see a happy priest. I think it rubs off on them.”
Ordained last year and now serving in solidum at St. Mary and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo, Fr. Trevino’s datebook is filled with baptisms, weddings, funerals and regularly scheduled Masses and confession times. He enjoys the active ministry and constantly looks for ways to be more involved. Maybe two or three times a year, he’ll have a free day where he can enjoy a convention in the Midwest with his mother, nephew or friends.
Members of the parishes he serves have had fun embracing Fr. Trevino’s somewhat unusual interest. Last Christmas, members of the Buffalo parish surprised him with an autographed picture and action figure of Seth Rollins, a native of the Davenport area. Some parishioners know Rollins’ parents and were able to make the arrangements to get the items. Fr. Trevino was touched by the gesture. “Deacon Larry (Dankert) said it was the first time he’d ever seen me quiet.”
Unlike other comic-con participants, Fr. Trevino’s role as an enthusiastic priest and a “pro-wrestling nut” isn’t one he wants to change out of. The best advice he received upon ordination came from fellow diocesan priest, Father Kevin Anstey: “Just be yourself.”
So Fr. Trevino doesn’t mind standing out a little bit, especially when his interest allows him to meet people where they’re at and share his love of God with others.
“I try to enjoy every moment in life. … I think every person just needs to be who they are,” he said.
(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)