Face Forward Chat Tuesday Special – Fr. Walter Oxley

The Pontifical College Josephinum has a Live-In coming up April 7-9 so we asked Father Walter Oxley a few questions. Following is the Q&A.

FF: The Josephinum’s website says you joined the staff in 2009 from the Diocese of Toledo. What are your responsibilities?

Fr. Oxley: I was asked by my bishop, Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair of Toledo to accept a faculty position at the Pontifical College Josephinum after I finished my doctoral work in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University. My academic degree is in the area of dogmatic theology, and so it was agreed that I would teach various theology courses to the theology-level seminarians (these are the graduate-level students). However, because PCJ often asks priests to fulfill another position outside of teaching, I was asked in my first year to be the Director of Liturgy. At the beginning of my second year, the rector asked me to assume the role of the Vice –Rector of the College of Liberal Arts.

FF: The Josephinum has a Live-In April 7-9. Can you tell us what a Live-In is all about?

Fr. Oxley: The Live-In is designed for a man, or young man, who is thinking about seminary to come and live with us for two days. Some men thinking about the priesthood ponder what the seminary is actually like. At the Live-In, you are able to experience how we pray together the Liturgy of the Hours, pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and socialize together as thriving men in Christ, who are full of life and joy.

FF: Who do you want to see attending a Live-In?

Fr. Oxley: Any young man, or man about the age of senior in high school or beyond, who truly would like to see if God may be calling them to the priesthood. To be honest, any solidly Catholic young man should be open to the priesthood, to see if God is calling him. This Live-In would be for those who truly want to take that seriously.

FF: What do you tell a young person who is discerning a vocation, wondering if he’s being called but feeling it’s not super clear?

Fr. Oxley: I would tell him that the college seminary is for him (if he does not yet have a college degree)!! The key here is “discerning.” The college seminary is focused on the process of true discernment in the spirit as to what vocation God is calling you.

FF: The priesthood has been called the highest profession and yet it seems so counter to the messages of the media in the world we live in. How do young men make the leap from society’s moral relativism to a commitment to the priesthood?

Fr. Oxley: First of all, it is important to remember that that the Second Vatican Council emphasized the “Universal Call to Holiness” which means that all baptized and confirmed Catholic Christians are called to the same level of holiness as priests and religious. The Council did not take up the issue of which vocation was the highest. Instead, they took up more how the different vocations are complimentary to each other. This being said, St. Paul spoke about how celibacy was preferred, as he was expecting the coming of Christ soon. Therefore, in the history of the Church, celibacy and, the priestly life have always been esteemed with the greatest dignity and honor, and as necessary for the life of the Church.