New priest to celebrate first Mass with gifted chalice

| May 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

EllisDeacon Joah Ellis

Age: 26

Hometown: Blaine

Home parish: Epiphany, Coon Rapids

Parents: Daniel and Carrie Ellis

Education: B.A. degree in philosophy, Catholic Studies and computer and information services from St. John Vianney College Seminary/University of St. Thomas

Teaching parish: St. Timothy, Maple Lake

Pastoral learning experiences: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): Resurrection Health Care, Chicago, Ill.; summer deacon assignment: St. Vincent de Paul, Brooklyn Park

Hobbies: Playing piano, bicycling, brewing/drinking tea, playing board/card games

Favorite books: “The Robe”by Lloyd C. Douglas, C.S. Lewis’s “Space Trilogy,” science fiction in general

Favorite movie: “I, Robot”

Person I most admire and why: Lately, I’ve been very impressed with Pope Francis. I admire his humility and simplicity, both in his personal life and his interactions with others.

Thanksgiving Mass: 11 a.m. May 26 at Epiphany, Coon Rapids

What led to your looking seriously into the priesthood?
There are several things that made me take a closer look at priesthood.

One of them was the fact that my family invited priests from our parish over for dinner. We had the opportunity to talk to them, get to know them, even play basketball or other games with them.

Through these experiences, I came to see that while these men were living an extraordinary call, humanly speaking, they were ordinary men.

In much the same way, the Team Vianney program and the Vianney Visits also helped me see that the priesthood was a real possibility.

Through those events, I met college seminarians and learned about the life of a seminarian. I realized that they were not that much different than I, and that made considering the call to priesthood much less intimidating.

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?
I was in high school before I entered seminary. After my high school graduation, I spent the summer working for the Parks and Recreation Department of Anoka County, and in the fall I entered the college seminary. That makes me the youngest man in my class. “Say not, I am too young…” (Jeremiah 1:7)

Were there any reasons why you had not considered the priesthood earlier in your life?
There certainly were things that I considered doing instead of entering seminary. I had volunteered at a public access cable TV station in high school, and I thought it would be exciting to pursue a job on a television or film crew.
In addition, I have always been fascinated by computers and how they work, and considered a career as a computer programmer/software engineer.

When was the first time you thought about the priesthood?
I remember first encountering the idea that God calls us to a certain vocation in grade school, through the faith formation program of the parish we then attended.

However, it was not until middle school that I first thought seriously about it. That was about when I became an altar server at my parish. People would tell me that I did a great job, and then ask me if I had thought about being a priest.

I was always polite in my response, but in reality I did not like being asked about that and tried to avoid the question when possible.

However, in spite of myself, it did get me thinking about the possibility that God was calling me to priesthood.

What people and/or experiences were instrumental in identifying and developing your vocation?
There are many people that played a role in helping me hear the call of God. One of them was Father Tom Wilson, who served as the parochial vicar at my home parish and then as the vocations director for our archdiocese. He was one of the priests who came over for dinner, giving me the opportunity to see that priests are normal people, too.

I believe that my parents were also crucial in this process. They did their best to live their faith and pass it on to us. By their decision to home school my siblings and me, they also gave us the opportunity to attend and serve at daily Mass, which was a key part of my call as well.

What excites you most about becoming a priest?
I am most excited about celebrating the sacraments, and especially offering Mass.

I am also looking forward to working with people instead of books and homework. Learning is great, but I have been in school continuously since kindergarten, and I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to being done with classes and coursework.

What’s more, it is truly inspiring to see the faith of those in our parishes, and the way the Lord Jesus is working in their lives.
I am excited to witness that and to help foster it in whatever way I can.

How would you like to answer the call to evangelization in your priestly ministry?
Evangelization, in its simplest form, is sharing the Truth with others. Jesus, who is the Truth, has certainly impacted my life in a big way, and I want others to have that experience of encountering him, too.

For me as a priest, that means giving witness to the Truth to those at the parish to which I am assigned, so that they can evangelize those around them. This can and must happen through preaching and teaching, but I believe it must always include personal relationship as well.

So, it will be important for me to get to know the parishioners I am serving. This is the approach I would take with anyone — whether they belong to the parish or not — but I anticipate my focus being the parish itself.

What encouragement and/or advice do you have for young men who may be considering the priesthood?
When I was considering priesthood, a priest told me to pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be every day so that I would know what God’s call was, what he wanted me to do.

I would give the same advice. If God is the one who has the plan for our lives, we will only come to know it by speaking to him and by listening to him in prayer.

Taking time for silence is another thing I would recommend because it helps us hear God’s voice. It is so beneficial to take even a few minutes each day to turn off the music, TV, cell phone and computer, and to sit in quiet.

Anything else you would like to add about your journey to priesthood?
My home parish is Epiphany, and I have many memories of serving Mass for Father Bernard Reiser.

When he died a year and a half ago, I learned that he wanted his chalice to be given to the next man to be ordained from the parish.

So, it has been passed on to me. I will use it for my Mass of Thanksgiving at Epiphany.

I am humbled to be entrusted with this sacred vessel, which is such a significant part of the parish’s history.

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Category: Ordinations