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Dayton native ordained a priest in Rome

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Friday, January 15, 2010

ROME — On the morning of Dec. 12  in the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, ordained 59 religious from the Legionaries of Christ to the priesthood. About 4,300 guests attended the ceremony, including relatives, friends, Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members.

Father James Brooks (Courtesy photo)

Father James Brooks, 32, a Dayton native was among the newly ordained priests. He entered the minor seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in Center Harbor, N.H., in the fall of 1992, where he finished his last three years of high school. In 1995 he entered the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Conn., where he also studied classical humanities.

He was the business manager of the Legion’s novitiate and college of humanities in Cheshire from 2000 to 2002, and then worked as dean of students at Oaklawn Academy, a boys’ language academy near Madison, Wis., for another two years. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome, where he is currently engaged in post-graduate studies in theology.

Since 2007 he has been a member of the formation team for the Pontifical Maria Mater Ecclesiae International College in Rome, which houses more than 200 diocesan seminarians coming from more than 20 countries and 90 dioceses around the world.

The youngest of five children, Father Brooks said of his vocation, “For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a priest. Ever since we were young, our parents always showed us what it means to be a Christian, both in church and in daily life. I think that is one of the reasons that my vocation to the priesthood was something very natural for me, even though I have to admit that I was something of a black sheep in our family.”

He recalls serving as an altar boy at Mass at Emmanuel Parish in Dayton and growing up knowing many “outstanding priests,” who instilled him a “tremendous respect for our Lord in the Eucharist.”

Father Brooks first learned about the Legionaries of Christ at 10 years old, when he met two visiting priests whose faith inspired him. His interest in the priesthood strengthened each year, and he entered the seminary at the age of 15.

“As I walked down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony of my ordination to the transitional diaconate, I could not help feeling unworthy to receive this tremendous gift and responsibility of the priesthood,” Father Brooks said. “It was then that I remembered my father’s words in a telephone conversation some weeks earlier. I mentioned to him how unworthy I felt, and he replied, ‘Don’t worry, no one is. You just keep going.’”

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