Meet the four men soon to be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Seattle
When Archbishop J. Peter Sartain ordains Deacons Michael Dion, Kyle Mangloña, Cody Ross and Patrick Sherrard to the priesthood this month, it will be the archdiocese’s largest cohort of new priests since 2011.
“They’re an excellent class. They’re going to be excellent priests for the Archdiocese of Seattle,” said Father Bryan Dolejsi, director of vocations. “What’s an excellent candidate for priesthood? Someone who’s prayerful; someone who has a heart of service; someone who has good interpersonal skills with old and young, men and women; someone who can be a leader; someone who can pastorally preach and teach the Gospel; someone who has the heart of a priest — they really want to shepherd God’s people.”
Moreover, this is just a likeable group, Father Dolejsi said. “They’re like guys you want to hang out with.”
Get to know our four ordinands in their own words, then come to their ordination on Saturday, June 25, at 10 a.m. at St. James Cathedral. Find out about their assignments here.
Deacon Michael Dion canoes at the Washington Park Arboretum. Photo: Courtesy Deacon Michael Dion
Deacon Michael Dion
Born: Dec. 21, 1987, in Renton
Home parish: Sacred Heart, Enumclaw
Seminary: Mount Angel (St. Benedict, Oregon) and the Pontifical North American College (Rome)
Favorite field of study: Philosophy. I’ve heard the Pacific Northwest is the most “unchurched” part of the entire country, so bringing theological positions into common discussions oftentimes meets uninterested or hostile responses. If we begin with people’s philosophical assumptions about life, though — about what it means to be human, what good and evil are, for example — we can often find some common ground that leaves room for engagement in the future, too.
Favorite saint: St. Peter. He’s a man who made all kinds of mistakes, and yet continued to stay with the Lord and came back to him in spite of his own foolishness and weakness. His encounter with Jesus changed everything for him, and it made him always return.
Hobbies: Exploring cities, visiting museums, hiking, reading, cooking, analyzing films, going to the beach
and swimming in the sea.
Michael Dion first thought of becoming a priest as a young boy in Enumclaw, the second of eight children in a devout Catholic family. After receiving first Communion, he became an altar boy, and always looked forward to serving.
“I just knew at some level that the worship of God was the most important thing you could do with your life,” he said. “And in my head I just had a vision that when you’re an altar boy, you grow up and you’re a priest.”
But as he grew up and grew in his faith, he also got interested in other things. He considered joining the military; he dated in high school and at the University of Washington; after graduating, in 2008, he did some political work and was hoping to get into fundraising and development.
But in the back of his mind, there was always a question, never entirely resolved, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it: “What if the Lord is calling me to the priesthood?” He came to resent the idea, as if it were something God was forcing on him.
Things began to change when he made a road trip to Oakland, California, to see a class of Dominican brothers make their first vows. The whole weekend at St. Albert’s Priory, Dion felt a sense of peace.
“In the next week or two, I had two or three dreams of being a priest,” he said. “Suddenly it was like, this is something that is very good.”
Still, he said, “For the next several months I didn’t really know what to do.” His spiritual director, Father Raymond Cleaveland, convinced him that seminary was the place to figure things out.
After being accepted as a seminarian in 2009, Dion spent a year working at Holy Rosary Parish in Seattle. It wasn’t always fun, but at the end of the day he often found himself saying, “Thank you, Lord.”
“Just feeling this joy in my heart — peace and joy as I’d never really experienced it before.”
Seminary has been “kind of a rollercoaster,” with ups and downs, he said, but he knows he’s on the right track. “I fully trust and believe that the Lord has brought me here.”
Deacon Cody Ross does a backflip at the summit of Mount Adams. Photo: Courtesy Deacon Cody Ross
Deacon Cody Ross
Born: July 6, 1978, in Ellensburg
Home parish: St. Andrew, Ellensburg; Holy Family, Kirkland (since 2000)
Seminary: Mount Angel (St. Benedict, Oregon)
Favorite field of study: Pastoral ministry. It takes the theological principles that we have learned and makes them come to life.
Favorite saint: St. Don Bosco. He is the patron of youth, and being a former youth minister, we share the same apostolic zeal for ministering to the youth. St. Don Bosco really helped to popularize what St. Francis de Sales emphasized: the universal call to holiness. What this means is that you don’t need to be a priest or religious to be a saint, but we are all called to be saints in our own particular vocations. He also used acrobatics in his ministry, and as one who likes to do backflips, I have found that I relate to him on many levels.
Hobbies: Skiing, rock climbing and doing backflips.
Growing up in an “average Catholic” family on five acres outside Ellensburg — where he helped raise horses, cattle, sheep and pigs — Cody Ross had one main goal in life: “to be really rich.”
“I thought that true happiness was having the ‘perfect’ life — lots of money, a beautiful wife, family, and a house with a white picket fence,” he said.
After graduating from Central Washington University with a business degree in 2000, he moved to Seattle and started working downtown. When a college friend invited him to a Life Teen Mass at Holy Family Parish in Kirkland, he had no idea it would change the course of his life.
His friend’s brother nominated Ross to help out with the youth group. “I had absolutely no intention of volunteering for anything,” he said, but “I found I couldn’t say no.” So began a five-year stint with Life Teen.
At a youth conference in 2003, he overcame his fear of confession and received the sacrament of reconciliation — another turning point.
“I just felt so liberated, like I’ve been given new life, new hope, and my whole outlook and my whole horizons have just expanded,” he said. “After that, it was like, Oh, money’s not really important.”
He started praying: “God, what do you want from me?” God’s somewhat cryptic response: “Do more.”
“I wasn’t really sure what that was,” he said. “I thought it could be the priesthood, but I didn’t really want to admit it at the time.”
He spent a year traveling the country with a missionary team of young adults, leading youth retreats in Catholic schools and parishes, then worked in youth ministry at St. Michael Parish in Olympia and Holy Family.
He thought he was called to marriage, but when a serious relationship ended, he felt “gutted,” desperate and confused. He finally took the advice of his pastor, Father Kurt Nagel, to spend 20 minutes every day in silent prayer.
“It was just like, ‘Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will,’ and try to shut up,” he said. “It was there, in that silence … where my vocation really unfolded, where I was able to listen to God.”
As a priest, he plans to continue using all his gifts “for the glory of God” — including the occasional backflip.
Deacon Kyle Mangloña hits a home run at an inter-pontifical university softball tournament in Rome. Photo: Courtesy PNAC
Deacon Kyle Mangloña
Born: July 30, 1990, in Tacoma
Home parish: Our Lady Queen
of Heaven, Tacoma
Seminary: Bishop White (Spokane) and the Pontifical North American College (Rome)
Favorite field of study: Moral theology. It seeks to understand ideas like conscience, freedom and virtue and how they operate in everyday life. It is constantly developing, adapting and re-proposing the ancient truths of our faith in a contemporary context. The “work” of moral theology is helping people imitate Christ in a way that is accessible, meaningful and ultimately sanctifying.
Favorite saint: St. Ignatius of Loyola. Not only for his own incredible story, but also for his legacy: the Society of Jesus, which has played a huge role in my formation. It was a Spanish Jesuit, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, who brought the faith to Guam in the 1600s — the faith I’ve inherited through generations of Chamorros. Also, the Ignatian idea of magis, or “the more,” always struck me as profound. There is always something more I can be doing to build up the kingdom. St. Ignatius was also struck by a cannonball, which is an epic trait in and of itself.
Hobbies: Traveling, playing the piano, skiing, watching baseball and drinking cold beer.
Kyle Mangloña was kind of an unusual kid — he never rebelled against the Catholic Church. “I was blessed to grow up in just a really strong Catholic family,” he said. His father prayed the rosary every day; his mother was always active in their parish. So he just thought, “Wow, this is important, and it probably should be important to me.”
As a little kid at Mass, he was fascinated by the priest, and would have his dad prop him up so he could get a better view of his pastor, Father Michael McDermott, at the altar. Back home, Kyle would “play Mass.”
“I used a Ninja Turtle towel as my chasuble, some white bread for hosts, and I’d have one of my cousins hold a stick as a processional cross,” he said.
“I have to say, I was a decent celebrant.”
When he was about 10, he became an altar server, “and I was one of those really motivated, determined and mildly obsessive altar boys,” he said. One day Father McDermott gave him a prayer card for vocations and told him he’d make a good priest. His successor, Father John Renggli, also encouraged Kyle to consider the priesthood when he was a high school football and baseball player.
“I’d always kind of thought about it in the back of my head,” he said, “and these two priests were great men, and as a young guy I was just like, I kind of want to be like them.”
So, at 18, he decided to go for it. “I entered the seminary after high school and never looked back.”
After four years at Gonzaga University, he was sent with Michael Dion to study in Rome in 2012, and they were in St. Peter’s Square the evening of Pope Francis’ election. “What a tremendous night.”
As he nears his priestly ordination, Deacon Mangloña’s childhood fascination with the Mass hasn’t faded. “I can’t wait to celebrate the sacraments with and for God’s people,” he said.
Deacon Patrick Sherrard plays in the annual Archbishop’s Golf Tournament. Photo: Courtesy Crozier Society
Deacon Patrick Sherrard
Born: July 1, 1985, in Seattle
Home parish: Sacred Heart, Bellingham
Seminary: The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) and Mundelein Seminary (Mundelein, Illinois)
Favorite field of study: Sacramental theology. I have always been interested in how the sacramental life of the church functions as a unique conduit of God’s grace in our everyday lives.
Favorite saint: St. Thomas Aquinas. I have always been drawn to the intellectual tradition of the church, and Aquinas is certainly one of the most significant influences in that regard.
Hobbies: Watching sports, studying film and literature, playing golf, backgammon, chess and cribbage.
Religion was just not part of Patrick Sherrard’s childhood in Kent. “People who went to church were looked on … as people who were kind of weird,” he said.
In eighth grade, a friend invited him to a youth group. “I didn’t know that youth group meant church,” he said. “Had I known … I probably wouldn’t have gone.” But he did go, and “that’s how I got introduced to Jesus.” At 15, he was baptized in a nondenominational church.
When he arrived at Western Washington University in 2005, he looked for a place to worship, “and as I was walking around campus, the Catholics were the only ones who actually advertised a church service on Sunday,” he said, “so that’s what initially got me in the door.”
The first Mass he attended was in a multipurpose room on campus, with a desk for an altar. Even in that humble setting, he was “blown away by the Catholic liturgy.”
“Because Communion was so purely symbolic in my church, the concept of the Real Presence — which wasn’t explicitly conveyed to me, but it was clearly implicit in the way in which the liturgy transpired — was something which was overwhelming to me.”
He left Mass feeling “a little bewildered but really, really drawn because of the way the liturgy conveyed mystery.” He found the campus minister, Mike Mauss, and told him, “I don’t know anything about Catholicism, but I really want to learn.” Six months later, he was confirmed at the 2006 Easter Vigil.
Even before his confirmation, people had started telling Sherrard he would make a great priest. He began spending time in eucharistic adoration to discern whether Jesus was really calling him.
“Adoration taught me the value of being quiet before God, the value of just saying, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,’” he said. “I think that was where the Holy Spirit really started to speak to me.”
There was no “Eureka!” moment in his discernment, but after a couple of years he clicked “send” on his seminary application. Seven years later, he knows he made the right decision, and he looks forward to “walking with the people of God” as a priest.
“I love teaching the faith, I love talking to people about the faith, I love sharing my passion for the faith with others, I love watching people come into the faith,” he said. “Part of my desire to be a priest was I felt that God was calling me to share with other people, in a particular way — in a sacramental way — what I myself had received.”
Northwest Catholic - June 2016
Kevin Birnbaum is the editor/associate publisher of Northwest Catholic and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. Contact him at [email protected].
Kevin Birnbaum es el editor de la revista Noroeste Católico/Northwest Catholic y miembro de la Parroquia del Sagrado Sacramento en Seattle. Pueden contactarle en: [email protected].