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Ordination Profile: Deacon Alex McCullough

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The men scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood May 21 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati responded to questions from The Catholic Telegraph to profile their background and journey to the priesthood. TheCatholicTelegraph.com will publish profiles each day this week leading up to ordination.

Deacon Alex McCullough

Deacon Alex McCullough.
Deacon Alex McCullough.

My mom and dad live in Northern Kentucky, and I have an older sister (married with two sons) and a younger brother who is married. They are both still in town. My home parish is Sacred Heart Church in Camp Washington. I attended St. Clement grade school, Covington Latin School, and I did my undergrad at Christendom College in Virginia.

• What was the process that led you to pursue the priesthood?

When I was a child, my parents instilled in me the importance of the church, and in particular my dad showed me the importance of having a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother through the rosary. As I grew up and pursued my plans, I couldn’t escape the notion that the priesthood might be something that God might be asking me to explore. I continued praying the rosary every day, and through adoration and taking advantage of opportunities for confession more often, I finally got to the point where I knew I had to seriously explore seminary because I was thinking about it every day. I applied, showed up, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

• What has the journey been like as you neared ordination? 

There is a certain nervous excitement that leads up to ordination, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that I have been in seminary for five years. But, even as schoolwork and parish obligations build up, it’s impossible to not be excited about receiving the incredible gift of the priesthood that we have all been working towards for years.

• Was there a single person who greatly influenced your decision to become a priest? 

There were many people along the way who taught me what it means to be a priest, but if I had to choose one it would be my pastor growing up, Father Mario Rauzi. He was a mentor to Father Earl Fernandes as well, and he lived a powerful witness of a joy-filled priesthood that showed me that happiness can be found in this life. He did the small things well, and always with a smile on his face. He has been a priest now for almost 71 years, and he still loves every minute of it.

• What message would you offer to those who want to serve God but do not know how?

Love God and do what you will. My vocation became easier to follow when I made the decision to be open to God’s grace, and to simply try to do the best I could in my day to day life. If you make time for prayer, take advantage of the sacraments, and be mindful of God’s presence in your life, then I believe that it becomes easier to know what He wants from us.

• How has being a deacon influenced the type of priest that you will be?

Preaching and baptizing as a deacon have been powerful reminders of what we are called to be as priests. Sometimes when I am reading the Gospel at Mass I still can’t believe what God has done in my life. Being with the people at my internship parish and my home parish has been such a completely unmerited gift that I am thankful everyday for the people that God has put in my life, and I hope I can be worthy to serve them, and all my future parishioners.

• What are some of your thoughts about beginning priestly life?

First of all, unmitigated joy. It’s a dream come true, and I’m grateful to all the people who have been praying for me and helping me along for all these years. There is also some fear that I will mess something up. Priests often come into peoples’ lives at important moments, and I know that if I am only offering people myself, it will never be enough. I pray that I will be able to get out of the way and allow people to experience Jesus Christ, not myself, through me.

• What advice would you offer about discerning a vocation?

Be like the persistent widow in Luke’s Gospel. Go about your daily life, seeking holiness in your personal circumstances, but never stop asking God what he has planned for your life. Eventually, He will show you what that is.

• What will you miss most about your seminary preparation time? What will you value most?

The seminary is a sort of one stop shop for the priestly life. There are many talented professors here to help us learn, and wise spiritual directors, and we are surrounded by the men with that we will be working alongside of for the rest of our lives. I value the education I have received, but I think I will miss the easy brotherhood that comes with having all of my brothers under one roof. That is a blessing that does not exist in the parish.

• What types of jobs have you had?

I was a Latin and religion teacher for a few years before seminary, and I also worked as a handyman and delivery guy for a local pharmacy. I loved both jobs and was lucky to work with such great people. Whether I was lecturing to students or laying blacktop, I loved being a part of both those institutions.

• What sort of extracurricular activities did you enjoy in college? 

I played baseball in college, and I loved every minute of it. The fraternity in the dugout with those men is something that I treasure even to this day.

Other Profiles (Date published)
Deacon Chris Geiger (May 16)
Deacon Sean Wilson (May 16)
Deacon Timothy Fahey (May 17)
Deacon Jason Williams (May 17)
Deacon Matt Feist (May 19)
Deacon Eric Roush (May 19)
Deacons Reagan, Bertke and Smith (May 20)

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