Deacon Jeff Craig wants sainthood for himself and his parishioners

Deacon Jeffrey Craig’s journey to the priesthood has given him a deep desire for sainthood, both for himself and for the people he will minister to as a priest. He will be ordained on June 27, 2020.
Faith formation has centered his life since he was young. He attended St. Alphonsus Grade School in Wexford and altar served at St. Alphonsus Church. The priests that he met there inspired him.
The thought of priesthood as his own vocation did not cross his mind until a dedicated theology teacher at Quigley Catholic High School opened his eyes to the possibility. Deacon Craig began attending school retreats. He grew in his love of the Church and of service alongside fellow students who shared his beliefs.
This love of service prompted him to pursue a career in social work. In 2011, he studied psychology at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida.
“I quickly realized that while I wanted to do social work, I wanted to do it in a faith-based, sacramental way,” Deacon Craig recalls.
This realization led him to the priesthood, and he entered St. Paul Seminary in the fall of 2012. As part of his priestly formation, he studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“My favorite part of that was being surrounded by the saints and witnessing the ways the saints lived their lives for God,” he said.
Before his exams, he would stop to say a quick prayer for guidance at the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena in the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica. Outside of Florence, he visited the tomb of St. Gemma Galgani, whose sole desire from an early age was union with Jesus and with her parents in heaven. He learned a lesson about following God’s will in Malta, where it is believed that St. Paul spread Christianity after he shipwrecked on its shores.
“It inspired me, because even though St. Paul didn’t mean to land in Malta, he still accomplished great things for God there. I may have plans that God wrecks because he has different plans for my life and for how he wants me to serve him,” Deacon Craig said.
Growing in friendship with these saints showed him that there is no one single way to become a saint. Saints come from all different backgrounds. Some are funny and some are serious; some are rich and some are poor. But every person, no matter his or her walk of life, is called to be a saint, he said. Deacon Craig is excited to encourage people on their journey to sainthood through his priestly ministry.
As his ordination day approaches, Deacon Craig looks forward to celebrating the sacraments as a priest. The suspension of the sacraments amid the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed his appreciation for how much people depend on them. He is also deeply grateful to his family, friends, and mentors who have supported and prayed for him as he pursued the priesthood.
He encourages any man discerning a priestly vocation to spend time getting to know God, which leads to self-knowledge. Once a man knows who he is in the Lord, he can be open to go wherever God calls.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to be a priest, but when I came to realize it, I never looked back,” he said.