Note: Four graduates of Thomas Aquinas College have been ordained this past year, bringing to 50 the number of alumni priests in the College’s first 40 years. Below is the third in a series of profiles of the College’s newest ordained alumni.
It was a longing for marriage that ultimately led Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95) to his priestly ordination. “I briefly thought about the priesthood,” he recalls, “but I wanted to get married.”
God, however, had different plans. The story of Fr. Perrotta’s vocation begins back when his grandfather, still a young man, was himself eager to find a wife. He started a 27-day long novena to the Blessed Mother, and the day after it was completed, met the woman he would eventually wed.
Decades later his grandson, Jonathan Perrotta of Ann Arbor, Mich., enrolled as a freshman at Thomas Aquinas College. “Being at the College,” he says, “was a profound blessing that made me all the more convinced of the truth of our faith.” After his graduation in 1995, still not envisioning himself as a priest, he began working at Trader Joe’s, eventually managing and opening several stores throughout the Northeast and Midwest.
Although his next decade was consumed with work, Jonathan still thought he wanted to get married. In 2005 he took the matter to prayer — beginning the same novena his grandfather had once prayed to find a wife. “As I prayed it,” he recalls, “I became convinced that I had to ask God what He wanted me to do.”
Soon thereafter, he attended a day of discernment sponsored by the Archdiocese of Detroit, and his vocation became clear. “I had this powerful sense of Mary being there, and she was saying, ‘This is the answer to your prayer; this is my answer to you.’” Within a year, he entered the seminary. Although his grandfather had since passed away, Jonathan’s grandmother — now elderly and ill — took an active interest in his vocation. “She was always praying and offering her sufferings for me so I could be a priest,” says Fr. Perrotta.
On June 11, 2011, the Most Rev. Earl Boyea conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Fr. Perrotta at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, Mich. That day, for the first time in five years, Fr. Perrotta’s grandmother was blessed with the strength to attend Mass, and thus witness her grandson’s ordination — another fruit of the novena her late husband had prayed all those years ago.
In God’s providence, that novena has now begotten another vocation. For Fr. Perrotta, now the parochial vicar at the Church of the Holy Family in Grand Blanc, Mich., there is great peace in answering Christ’s call. “There is a sense of fittingness. This is who God made me to be.”
- Rev. Nick Blaha (’02)
- Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02)
- Fr. Jonathan Perrotta (’95)
- Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06)
Posted December 23, 2011
“When you first arrive here, the upperclassmen are almost like your heroes because they’re at the place — or approaching the place — where you want to be, both intellectually and spiritually. It promotes friendship in a way that I have never seen before.”
– John Jost (’17)
“This is truly a Catholic center of learning because it reverberates with the ecclesial life of faith, a faith which unfolds the richness of reason and is given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, and through prayer, acts of charity, and a passion for justice.”
– The Most Rev. J. Michael Miller
Archbishop of Vancouver
Former Secretary, Congregation for Catholic Education