“What I found is a pearl of great price,” Rev. Fadi Auro (’03) recently told his diocesan newspaper. “When I discovered this intimacy with the Lord, it was so much more important than anything I left behind.”
On Saturday, May 26, the Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Fr. Auro at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Dr. Andrew Seeley, a member of the teaching faculty, had the privilege of representing the College at the ordination ceremony, and described it as “a beautiful experience of the communion of the Church, with probably 1,500 people in attendance.”
Looking back, it may not have come as much of a surprise to Fr. Auro or his family that he became a priest. “My mother has videos of me ‘saying Mass’ as a child,” he told the St. Louis Review. Yet few would have expected his ordination to take place in this hemisphere, let alone for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
According to the Review, Fr. Auro was born in the United Arab Emirates, the child of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics who were visiting the United States, and then stayed when the first Persian Gulf War erupted in 1991. Raised in California, he was “intellectually unconvinced” about his faith until a powerful conversion experience at the age of 17. From there began a spiritual and intellectual journey that brought him to various Catholic colleges, including Thomas Aquinas College, Christendom College, and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
“Fadi had a very joyful spirit. He had this delighted smile on his face he would get during class,” recalls Dr. Seeley, who taught him Freshman Philosophy. “Fr. Auro said that his preparation at the College, the process of coming to clarity through careful reasoning and discussion, stood him in great stead as he went on to other places.”
It was in the Eternal City that, thanks to the introduction of his spiritual adviser, Fr. Auro first made the acquaintance of a good friend of the College, His Eminence Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and the College’s 2010 Commencement Speaker. Cardinal Burke was, at the time, the Archbishop of St. Louis, and at his recommendation Fr. Auro applied to the Archdiocese’ Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Thus, by the workings of Providence, Fr. Auro would go from Rome to the city that has historically been known as “The Rome of the West” due to its strong Catholic identity and its having mothered numerous other Midwestern dioceses.
Of course, that was just one leg of a much larger journey that began with his childhood in Abu Dhabi. Fluent in several languages, Fr. Auro today is a “bi-ritual priest,” able to offer the Mass in both the Eastern rite of his upbringing and the Latin Rite that is prevalent in the West. For his first assignment, he is serving as an associate pastor at the Church of the Ascension in Chesterfield, Mo.
“During his time at Thomas Aquinas College, Fr. Auro was trained in the listening and presentation skills of conversation, the discipline of mathematical and scientific studies, and introduced to the philosophical and theological sources of St. Thomas,” reflects Dr. Seeley. “I believe that Fr. Auro’s parishioners will experience graces from his formation for the next 50 years.”