Father Dan is the parochial vicar of the Butler/Center/Lyndora/Meridian Grouping. He is also the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry in Butler. He was ordained in 2017.
1. How did God call you to the priesthood?
My mom homeschooled my brothers and me when I was in the fifth through the eighth grade. We had the privilege of attending daily Mass at St. Athanasius Church. Father Jim Bachner in his first assignment inspired me with his energy and friendliness as a priest. One day while he was saying Mass, I had a profound sense that some day I needed to be on the other side of the altar, saying Mass. I wrestled with this call through high school and entered St. Paul Seminary after I graduated.
After two years, I discerned out of seminary and transitioned to St. Vincent College, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. I began working in IT support for a medical manufacturing company and assisting with a youth group on the side, which brought me a lot of fulfillment. A year later, I joined National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministriesand traveled around the country with other young Catholics to spread the Gospel. One day before a Mass with NET, a priest who was rumored to be able to read souls told me that the Lord was calling me to come follow Him. After more deep prayer and discernment, I reentered St. Paul Seminary. In a sense, I can say I always knew I was called to the priesthood, but after that time of discernment away from the seminary, I was certain of this call.
2. What is the most meaningful aspect of your ministry?
The Mass. There’s something beautiful about proclaiming the Scriptures in a public place. But the Eucharist is the center of it. To consecrate the Eucharist, receive Him, and give Him to the faithful charges me up. People come to Mass worried and anxious about the things going on in their lives. I hope that they can encounter Jesus in the Eucharist in a profound way and that our homilies as priests and deacons open their hearts to deeper faith. I also love greeting people after Mass, of course, now from a safe social distance while I wear a mask. Those encounters have opened so many doors for ministry.
3. What is the most challenging part of your ministry?
For me, the toughest part is meeting everyone where they’re at. I meet people of all ages and walks of life. People have a lot of different expectations and needs. In all my interactions with people, I try to discern what the Lord wants me to say. I’m learning how to love everyone I meet in the way they need it and to be a father to the people I serve.
4. What do you wish people knew about the priesthood?
If you are called to the priesthood, you will find nothing as fulfilling, dynamic, or life-giving than this vocation. It is a challenge to balance all the work that needs to be done, but it’s exciting that no two days are alike. My day job is trying to bring people to heaven.
Although we are conformed to Christ, priests are real people who have good days and bad days. We have fears and doubts that we need to give over to the Lord, just like everyone else and always appreciate your prayers.
5. What is your hobby, or what do you like to do in your free time?
I love biking. My brother, who is also a priest, and I have biked from Washington DC to Pittsburgh (335 miles) and from Albany to Buffalo (400 miles)! I enjoy exploring new trails. I also love playing pickup sports like ultimate frisbee, and going out to dinner with friends or going over to families’ homes for dinner.