Take 5 with Father Levi

Father Levi Hartle is parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity Parish in south Pittsburgh and diocesan Praise and Worship consultant. He was ordained in 2015.

  1. How did God call you to the priesthood?

When I was in the seventh and eighth grades, a few people asked me if I had ever considered becoming a priest. I hadn’t thought about it, but their questions made me wonder if they saw something in me that I did not see in myself. I was active in my church and in my Catholic school, and began to pray about a call to the priesthood.

My cousin said that if I was called to the priesthood, God would make it clear. During my senior year of high school, I was on a retreat at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery on the South Side when a man I didn’t know called me by name and recounted to me some early childhood memories that he could not have known if not for some supernatural grace.  The last thing the man said was, “God is calling you to the priesthood.”  Then, I felt this overwhelming sense of God’s love and peace.  Afterward, I went to my room and sat on my bed in the retreat center and I felt like God the Father was holding me in His arms. I prayed: If priesthood is what you have made me for, then my answer is yes. I went to Grove City College for my undergraduate degree in music education and entered St. Paul Seminary afterwards

2. What is the most meaningful aspect of your ministry?

It’s praising the Lord and bringing other people into that praise. Praise teaches people how to unite their hearts with God’s. The height of praise is the Mass, and Confession removes people’s obstacles to praise. I love to evangelize through music, particularly praise music. I sing and play the guitar, the trumpet, and the piano.  I love to help people who love Jesus to fall in love with Jesus!  St. Francis said: “I want to be a psalm to the Lord.” The Lord told me in prayer that He wants me to be the same. Every beat of our hearts and every one of our actions is part of a song of praise to God.

3. What is the most challenging part of your ministry?

For me personally, it can be that I overextend myself at times. The pandemic has also brought new challenges. Because of social distancing rules, I can’t sit with people who are struggling and talk with them the way that I used to. COVID has really crushed that kind of human contact. But Praise Nation, a diocesan worship initiative that I helped to found, has released many praise and worship videos on YouTube, and will soon be releasing a number of EP recordings across social media platforms. Our hope is that when people connect to their faith through a video on their TV or hear these Catholic songs of praise, their hearts and minds will be redirected to Jesus and His Church.

4. What do you wish people knew about the priesthood?

I don’t think that most people understand that priests are human too and need to be loved. Small acts of kindness go a long way. This can even be as simple as looking your priest in the eye and saying hello.

For men discerning the priesthood, I wish they knew that everything you give to the Lord, He always gives back. If God made you for this vocation, it will fit like a glove. Priesthood is really hard and really beautiful at the same time. It is a gift of yourself. You need to die to your ego and embrace the cross. Priesthood is much like a marriage in that way. That is countercultural today; everyone is looking for the resurrection without the cross. But the only way to resurrected life with Christ is through the cross. 

5. What is your hobby, or what do you like to do in your free time?

I like to play sports like ultimate frisbee, tennis, volleyball, and ping pong. Praising the Lord is my passion and I love doing that by playing music. I’m a people person and relax best when I’m surrounded by friends and family.