County Faces: Fr. Alex Antony of St. Agatha
MADAWASKA, Maine — A journey from India brought Father Antony Alexander Maria Doss, who goes by “Father Alex,” to the Valley almost two years ago, where he has challenged the community and increased community involvement through church activities.
Father Alex spent two years in the Presque Isle and Caribou areas beginning in 2015 when he began working with the Diocese of Portland. He now resides in St. Agatha and serves several churches.
“It was Feb. 12 when I got here, I remember that day because there was a blizzard and it was my first time touching and playing with the snow,” he said. “I came from a very warm place, so it’s beautiful to see.”
Due to a shortage of priests in the area, the bishop of the Diocese of Portland requested missionary priests from the Heralds of Good News, whose purpose is to send priests wherever there is a need in the universal church.
“I am very fortunate to work in northern Maine,” Father Alex said. “People are very loving, and it’s a tight community.”
Father Alex leads six different faith communities along with the other priests on rotation. A majority of his community involvement is within the church and he does all he can to bring the community to church events.
“I would love to help people grow in their faith through community activities,” he said.
He does, however, expand his outreach to the community by attending various public functions, primarily with children.
“I go to all of their games, plays — I’ve never missed one,” he said. “Sometimes, I even go twice.”
He has also attended the Planet Head Day program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, which benefits people in Aroostook County surviving cancer. With other priests as his competition, He shaved his head and raised $1,500. He also participated in the color run in Presque Isle.
For Father Alex, art has always been one of God’s gifts. He once sold paintings to raise funds for community events, but the bishop told him he “would do more good if they gave it in a raffle to raise money.”
However, painting for fundraisers is not the only way he contributes his art. He is also known for his pencil drawings of children, some of whom have passed away, and he gives the drawings to the parents.
Even as a small child, he enjoyed painting and drawing, though his mother encouraged him to stay focused on school, at one point even throwing his art supplies in the fire.
“I wasn’t doing my homework,” he said. “She was not trying to discourage me in art, but trying to encourage my education.”
While Father Alex said he is rarely homesick, because he hasn’t seen his parents in three years, he said he does FaceTime them often. His mother and father were both happy he wanted to become a priest.
“I am doing what I love,” he said. “This has been my childhood desire, to go to new places to meet new people and learn a new language.”
Striving to help the community through the church and vise versa is what Father Alex said is his passion.
“I really want to reach out to the community as a whole,” he said.
Through using Facebook “the right way”, Father Alex posts events and activities the public is always welcome to attend, along with photos he takes at events including plays and sporting events, “so the kids always know that we’re here for them.”
Father Alex has been requested to stay in the United States for a total of 10 years and has already spent close to four of those 10 here in The County.
“I am the lucky one to be able to stay in the north and enjoy the community life here,” he said. “When new things come, we might forget our roots, but it is nice to see people stay kind. If we’re strong in our faith, all other areas will be strong.”