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New Alumnus Priest: Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03)

New Alumnus Priest: Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03)

Posted: January 4, 2016

Above, alumni and their families at the ordination of Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03)


The Most Rev. James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup, ordains Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03)“When I was about 5, I asked my mom when she was going to teach me about Jesus and Mary,” recalls Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03). “She was kind of surprised.”

Although his parents were not practicing Catholics, Josh had a longing to learn about the Faith, which he credits to the influence of some devout cousins. His mother responded by bringing him to several local churches, after which, he concluded, the Catholic one suited him best. He was baptized at the age of 6, largely on his own initiative.

Yet if Fr. Mayer was precocious at the age of 5, he was “immature,” he admits, in his teenage and young-adult years. His grades in high school were respectable, but he was not a very focused student. “I liked learning and I liked the social environment of school, but the classroom was always pretty tough for me,” he remembers. “My plan was to not go to college.”

That changed, however, when a philosophy teacher, detecting some untapped potential, suggested that he apply to Thomas Aquinas College. “He said, ‘You have this thirst for truth that goes a little bit deeper; why don’t you go visit?’” So Fr. Mayer obliged, and the experience was enough to convince him to apply.

“At that point, I didn’t fully understand the program, what it meant to be studying these matters of perennial truth,” he says. “But the tutors were awesome, and the students were good people who I knew would be good examples to me, people I could lean on in my efforts to stay close to the Lord.”

Nevertheless, while at the College, he acknowledges, many of his bad habits from high school endured. “Academically, I did as much work as I needed to in order to get by, but no more.” Spiritually, he says, “I allowed myself to float along.” Surrounded by faithful classmates, “I let my friends carry me.” He would follow them to Mass and to confession and to nightly Rosary, but these spiritual exercises were more routine than heartfelt.

“I think, because of my maturity level, it wasn’t the period of personal flowering that it often is for other students. I wasn’t ready for that,” he reflects. “Still, a lot of seeds were planted during that time.”

Those seeds, he can now see, began to take root in the first few years after his graduation in 2003, when he worked in real-estate appraisal, advertising, and then waterscaping before becoming a high school science teacher. “It was almost like graduating, getting out in the working world, making my own decisions, and consciously making prayer a priority in my life — that was when I first realized what a gift my time at the College was,” he says. “That was when I made the Faith my own. Even though I had made that choice as a child, I had to do it again.”

While working as a teacher at a Catholic school in Gallup, New Mexico, he began to sense the stirrings of a priestly vocation, often during Eucharistic Adoration. “I would find myself envisioning what it would look like to be a priest in Gallup, and then I would feel a strong consolation, like a warmth of heart, or a joy, or peace,” he says. At first he dismissed these experiences, but “they kept happening, again and again.” Eventually he found the message impossible to deny. “It became clear to me that the Lord was asking me at least to apply to the seminary and to follow Him one small step at a time,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘If I say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I should actually follow Him when I know He is calling me.’”

In 2009 Fr. Mayer entered St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, as a candidate for the Diocese of Gallup. It was there, he notes, where the “seeds” planted at the College first blossomed, and he thrived academically. “All those skills, such as the ability to read a text, really helped me,” he says. “Never before had I been considered a top student, but one day one of my seminary professors told me that I was one of the two best readers of text that he had ever taught.”

On June 13, 2015, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the Most Rev. James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup, ordained Fr. Mayer to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. Today Fr. Mayer is the cathedral’s parochial vicar as well as the diocese’s associate vocations director. “I am learning how to seek workers for the vineyard — guys like me,” he says, for whom the Lord has glorious plans, even though they may be slow to develop.

Isabella Hsu (’18) on discussion method

“In our classroom discussions, we are responsible for our own education. We have to get our hands dirty, to figure out the material, to let it become part of us and make us better people. That is real learning.”

– Isabella Hsu (’18)

Redondo Beach, California

“Thomas Aquinas College knows this — that the life of the mind involves the spiritual life as well — and that is why I have always thought of this institution as a college in the image and likeness of John Paul II.”

– George Weigel

Papal Biographer