June 28, 2008
Pontifical North American College, Rome
Franciscan University of Steubenville, BA ’03
Catholic University of America, MA, Catechesis, ’09
Associate Director for Student Life, Newman Catholic Center at UMass, Amherst.
I come from a long line of cradle Catholics! Sunday Mass was an important part of our family tradition. We tried as best we could to go as a family–myself, my older sister and brother, and Mom and Dad. We went to church every Sunday, I went to CCD, and I was an altar boy. The only thing is that we didn’t talk about our faith at home. Mom and Dad would ask what I learned in CCD, but that was about it. I always knew the faith was important to them, however, and they taught me good, moral values, values that stick with me to this day.
In high school I fell away from the church. I still went to church, but I wasn’t involved and I didn’t get it. I stopped serving Mass. I skipped CCD (sometimes). During my confirmation year I went on a youth retreat that changed my perspective on church, prayer, Mass, and simply being Catholic.
After I transferred to Franciscan University of Steubenville, my faith really blossom. I had been told as a teenager that I would make a good priest or that I should become one. I went to FUS thinking that I was on the road to priesthood, but I didn’t go to seminary right away. Instead, I deepened my understanding and love for God, the Church and my neighbor through my household brothers and other friends as well as the courses I was taking in theology and philosophy.
In all this, I guess I could say that I first began to consider the priesthood as a teenager but it was not until after college that I realized that I was being called. When I graduated from FUS in 2003, I went to work as a Director of Religious Education for a parish in CT. It was working with the pastor at St. John’s that I began to sense that I was truly being called. This was the experience that led me to apply for seminary. In fact, the vocation director of the Springfield Diocese called me! He took me out to eat, slid an application across the table and said, “No pressure.” I laughed. The next thing I knew, I had the whole thing completed, essays and all, and mailed into his office.
I have been ordained now since 2008. Some of my greatest joys as priest have been celebrating the sacraments. Holy Mass is something very important to me as a priest. I truly love bringing the Eucharist to hungry souls! Hearing confessions and forgiving the sins of the people… these are great joys! In addition to the sacraments, when a person approaches me and tells me that he or she understands the faith better because of something I said in a homily or in RCIA, it brings my heart great joy. Just knowing that through my ministry, the love of God can be more fully known in the hearts of the faithful, is a true joy. Being God’s instrument, that is my joy.
For those of you young men considering priesthood, my advice would be to pray daily and attend Mass, go to confession often. The more room you make for God in your heart, the easier it is for you to hear Him speak to you and tell you what He desires of you in your life. God bless you!
Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon
Associate Director for Student Life
UMass Newman Catholic Center
472 North Pleasant St
Amherst, MA 01002
413-549-0300 ext. 12
“Cor ad Cor Loquitur” … “Heart Speaks to Heart” – Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman