There aren’t many people who can say that they have stood at the altar with Pope Francis and helped with Holy Communion, but Chad Vanhoose, who attended St. Mary of the Annunciation growing up, is one of those people.
“To be there at the alter with him, serving the people of God, bringing Holy communion to some bishops and cardinals, definitely gave me a perspective on the church,” Vanhoose said.
Vanhoose, a graduate of Portsmouth Notre Dame High School, and Eastern Kentucky University, has been studying at The Priesthood seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota for the past six years to become a priest. During his time in seminary, Vanhoose has had the opportunity to study all over the world. Those trips have taken him to Washington to participate in the march for life, Ireland to study different challenges that the catholic church has faced, Jerusalem to walk where Jesus lived and Italy to understand the church as something that is global.
“You know, I grew up in South Shore, went to school at Portsmouth Notre Dame, lifelong Christian at St. Mary’s, so my idea of the church growing up was pretty limited,” Vanhoose said. “Just what I saw there in Portsmouth and South Shore. But to be at the papal alter with Pope Francis serving the global church, the universal church, was just an awe-inspiring moment”
Seeing Pope Francis at the Vatican was not the only occasion where Vanhoose has gotten to see the Pope. He saw Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis whenever he was in the United States.
Vanhoose says that his time of studying to become a priest has changed him in ways that he never would have dreamed of.
“It’s been a transformative time in my life, learning how to lay down my life for the people of God,” Vanhoose said.
Last year, after his 5th year of seminary, Vanhoose was ordained a deacon, the last step before becoming a priest. Vanhoose will become an ordained priest May 27 in St. Paul Minnesota. Vanhoose will then be assigned a church in Minnesota.
“I’m excited to take on that role as the priest and administer the sacraments. I’m also just excited to be a father,” Vanhoose said. “You know, we call the priest by the title father and it’s not just some ceremonial title, but you know a real title. He takes on father-ship and for this particular church and so here in just a few weeks I’ll start my assignment.”
Friends and family of Vanhoose will be traveling to Minnesota to watch him be ordained as a priest.
“The Lord has been preparing me I think for this moment my whole life and so my family has been able to see that and so they’re excited for me,” Vanhoose said. “I think they are excited for the family too to have a priest in the family.”
Through his experience of learning how to become a priest, Vanhoose has learned an important lesson.
“He doesn’t just need our strengths but he needs our weaknesses,” Vanhoose said. “The Lord works most profoundly through the weakness of man. And so my weaknesses as a seminarian, as a deacon, and soon as a priest, the Lord will be able to shine through his strength to heal people and feed people. So it’s not just what the world would say, you know that the strong survive, but that God uses the weak and he loves the poor, he loves those that would lay down their lives for him.”
Vanhoose will be returning to St. Mary’s Sunday June 4 to celebrate his first mass. There will be a reception to follow. The family would like to invite everyone to attend.