The chants rose to the roof of the Owen L. Coon Forum: “Manny! Manny! Manny!”
The Cash Cows had just won the Kellogg School of Management’s new student Olympics, and soon Manny — who had emerged as a leader during the weeklong orientation program that pits teams of first-year MBA students against each other in collaboration-inducing competitions — was being tossed in the air.
"They had no idea who I was,” adds Dorantes, a Chicago diocesan priest who had ditched the collar for his Cash Cows team T-shirt throughout Kellogg’s Complete Immersion in Management Week. “So on Monday, the first day of class, I show up with my collar on, and you should have seen the jaws drop.
My classmates [who knew there was a clergyman in the class] were like, ‘You’re the Catholic priest? Are you serious?’
I think they were disappointed,” he says with a laugh.
Dorantes is now a second-year MBA student who splits his time between Chicago and the Vatican, where he occasionally works as a liaison to the Spanish-speaking media for the press office of the Holy See, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. Dorantes’ first major assignment was the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II last April. It was an unforgettable experience, he says.
In the fall Dorantes studied change management and global economics through Kellogg’s International Exchange Program at the London Business School — a convenient two-hour flight from Rome — after a paid summer internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a financial services consultant in the fraud and money laundering department for a Chicago client. (Unlike priests in a religious order — Jesuits or Franciscans, for example — diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty. Dorantes manages his own finances and is paying his own way at Kellogg with help from an F.C. Austin Scholarship.)
Dorantes has come a long way from his roots in Ixtapan de la Sal, a town in the State of Mexico near Mexico City. He immigrated to the United States with his mother when he was 12 years old. Dorantes struggled with the language and culture but graduated from Waukegan High School at 16 and in 2000 entered St. Joseph College Seminary, a preseminary philosophy program affiliated with and based at Loyola University Chicago.
That’s when the priest sex abuse scandal broke. “Every single day as a young seminarian I read another story of why I shouldn’t be a priest,” says Dorantes. “I saw church leaders doing a poor job with the media, just being tossed around and not really knowing how to respond.
“I was wrestling with this internally: If God were really calling me to be a priest in the United States, dealing with the media was going to be in my path. I discerned that seeking a journalism degree was the way to go, and then, if God were still calling me, I’d be back at seminary after I finished the degree.”
With permission from his superiors, Dorantes started a broadcast communications program at Loyola and was soon interning with Telemundo Chicago. “That was a formative time for me,” he says. “[To start the day] I was doing morning prayer and going to Mass and thinking about philosophical questions. And then in the afternoon, I would jump in a helicopter to cover a shooting on the South Side.”
After earning his degree in communications and philosophy from Loyola, Dorantes began his studies at Mundelein Seminary. He briefly interrupted his seminary training to work for Univision, a U.S. Spanish-language television network, at its Miami headquarters.