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 first in a series of profiles of the College’s newest ordained alumni.
If there was a single experience that convinced him of his vocation to the priesthood, says Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02), it was the time he spent at an orphanage in El Salvador  (PDF) while a seminarian for the Diocese of Kansas City, Kan., in 2010.
“These kids lack parents. They are just starving for affection, love, and acceptance. That experience was such a clear confirmation for me of a vocation. This was what it meant to be a spiritual father, because it was so tangible.”
Of course, Fr. Blaha began to discern his vocation many years earlier. He thinks back, for example, to the three priests who served as chaplains while he was a student at Thomas Aquinas College, and how, together, they formed his sense of ministry. “Each one substantiated a different aspect of the priesthood for me,” he recalls. Rev. Bart de la Torre, O.P., was an exemplar of the spiritual life and preaching; Rev. Michael Perea, O.Praem., was a model of devotion to prayer and liturgy; and Rev. Wilfred Borden, O.M.I., was a master at fostering community and serving others.
When he graduated from the College in 2002, Fr. Blaha says, “I felt like I had an excellent education and I wanted, in some small way, to give it to others.” So he pursued what he describes as “a trial period of apostolate’” by spending three years as a missionary on secular campuses for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
That experience gave him a glimpse of what it would mean, as a priest, to serve as an alter Christus. “I saw God working in people’s lives, bringing about conversions. It wasn’t me doing it, but in some sense, it wouldn’t have happened had I not been there,” Fr. Blaha observes. “That was a mark of the call of God; God is going to do this, but he won’t do it without me.”
In 2006 he entered the seminary, and on May 28, 2011, the Most Rev. Joseph Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, Kan., conferred upon him the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Fr. Blaha currently serves as the parochial vicar at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish and the chaplain at Hayden Catholic High School, both in Topeka.
2011 New Priest Profiles:
Posted November 8, 2011