In late 2019, Bishop Robert Brennan appointed Father William Hahn as vocations director for the Diocese of Columbus. After a transition period that began in early 2020, Father Hahn has taken over the role as of July, while Father Noble will continue as pastor of Sunbury St. John Neumann Church.
Hailing from the Hocking Hills area of Logan, Ohio, Father William Hahn, 44, was ordained a priest of the diocese on June 26, 2004. He was associate pastor at Powell St. Joan of Arc Church for two years and has been pastor at Chillicothe St. Peter and Waverly St. Mary since 2006. The two parishes were joined with St. Colman of Cloyne as part of a cluster in 2015.
While Father Hahn will be taking over the role that Father Noble filled for ten years, one major difference is that Father Hahn will be residing at the Pontifical College Josephinum. Since a majority of the Diocese’s seminarians are in formation for the priesthood at the PCJ, it makes sense to have Father Hahn to also reside there. He notes, “It is definitely different from parish life – getting used to living in an institution is a challenge, but I am enjoying the work and trying to develop relationships with the seminarians.” He goes on to say, “I know it will be beneficial for the seminaries that I am on-site and available to assist them with their formation.”
Growing up in Logan, Father Hahn attended public high school and took classes at Hocking College while “living in a cabin in the woods.” He ultimately transferred to Ohio University where he earned his degree in Accounting. While a student at OU, Father Hahn admits that he went through a bit of a party stage, looking for meaning and fulfillment in not-so-positive ways. An invitation to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., however, changed his path forever.
He attended the March For Life in Washington DC during his fourth year of college, and this is where he says he first “encountered the church on fire.” He remembers, “It was so different than I expected it to be.” He goes on to say, “This is what I had been looking for – this feeling of being alive.” And more than just the energy at the March for Life, Father Hahn understood that this feeling of being alive was bound up with the church from that moment on.
After the March for Life, he went to confession and the priest advised him “to get new friends.” It is hard to live the Catholic lifestyle when surrounded by people who are not doing the same. He also joined the Knights of Columbus and worked with a Newman group that went on missions to help those living in poverty.
During a trip to Washington, D.C., again, Father William Hahn met a young woman from Malaysia who went to the church and prayed every night in the Basilica while the rest of the group explored the city. One night he went with her and his time spent in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Basilica really began his deeper process of discerning. He says that he began to think about a call when she asked “is that what you want to do or what God wants you to do?”
Following his graduation from Ohio University, Father Hahn spent a few months at a monastery in South Dakota and decided that summer, on July 1, 1998, to call his vocations director. He immediately began his travels back home to begin the process of entering the seminary and remembers watching July 4th fireworks across the flat sky of the midwest as he was driving home. Another signal for his path…
Father Hahn notes that he was blessed with a very supportive family, and considers his brother’s conversion back to the faith after a dark period in his life a momentous step in his discernment process. He says he had only asked God for two things: Have the courage to tell people I was thinking about vocations and for my brother to come back to the faith. When he prayed, he says, “I felt the Lord tell me that He heard my prayers.”
When asked about the biggest challenge of his new role, Father Hahn explained that, “Every call is so unique – where do you go to find people discerning vocations?” Anywhere necessary, that’s where.