Fr. Chris Saenz is a native of Bellevue, Nebraska, and belongs to the Missionary Society of St. Columbans (commonly known as the Columban Fathers). He never felt a priesthood vocation when he was young. In reality, Fr. Saenz did not participate much in the Church during his youth. However, at the age of 21 he had a conversion experience after reading the book, The Song of Bernadette. The book was about St. Bernadette and her visions of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. Fr. Saenz was moved by the testimony of St. Bernadette and it made him question many aspects of his life and faith. That was the first time he began to feel a priesthood vocation which, at first, he rejected. After several years of internal struggle with his doubts, Fr. Saenz entered the Columban seminary at the age of 26. He received a Masters of Divinity at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL. Fr. Saenz was ordained a priest on June 24, 2000, in his home parish of St. Mary’s of Bellevue in Nebraska.
Fr. Saenz was sent to mission in Chile. For several years he worked with the indigenous people Mapuche in southern Chile. After he was appointed Rector of Columban Formation in Santiago, Chile. There he guided Chilean and Peruvian seminarians who had a missionary vocation.
In 2007 Fr. Saenz returned to the USA to study a Masters of Spiritual Direction in Boston College. In 2010 he received his degree and returned to Chile. He was appointed parish priest of Saint Thomas Apostol in La Pintana, an urban area of Santiago notoriously known for social problems such as drugs and gangs. However, Fr. Saenz encountered a people committed to improving their community and neighborhood with acts of solidarity and hospitality.
In the formation of lay pastoral agents and seminarians, Fr. Saenz discovered a passion for Biblical Spirituality especially in the Gospels, taking into account the historical contexts and biblical cultures. His desire is to always continue studying the Bible, broadening his vision and sharing with those he was sent to mission to.
In September of 2017, after missioning seventeen years in Chile, Fr. Saenz was assigned to his home country. Currently, he lives in the Regional Headquarters of the Columbans in Bellevue, NE, working out of the Hispanic Ministry office of the Columbans.