Fr. Adam became the Pastor
of the St. Andrew - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish region in July 2020.
Welcome, Fr. Adam!
Get to know him and his story below.
Fr. Adam grew up in Dayton, Ohio. His family, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, relocated to Dayton while his mother was pregnant with Adam after his father received a job at GM. He has two siblings - an older sister who lives in north Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and a younger brother who lives in Cincinnati. Currently, his parents have happily retired to North Carolina. According to Fr. Adam, “[My family] said they would buy me gifts if I would not talk about them from the pulpit.”
Some of Fr. Adam's most favorite family memories involve taking vacations to visit the National Parks - with one of his most memorable family trips being out west to visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone when he was in junior high. His favorite parks are Acadia National Park in Maine and Olympic National Park in Seattle.
Fr. Adam also distinctly remembers that while growing up, he and his siblings were limited to 1 or 2 hours of Nintendo a day: “If you’ve ever played the original Zelda on Nintendo, 1 or 2 hours does nothing for that game. So it took me years to play the original Zelda in my limited capacity of 1 or 2 hours.” He still enjoys video games, though mostly just when friends come over to visit.
Fr. Adam attended grade school at Incarnation School in Centerville and remembers always being involved in his faith, including through peer ministry. When he was around 10 years old, a youth choir was started at his church, and not being a shy person - he jumped right in and joined. As he remembers, “that was a big step for me.” Singing in the choir also led him to join a traveling choir in Dayton and to learn how to play the guitar. Fr. Adam said, “I looked at it as a way to serve. A lot of kids get to serve at Mass growing up, I didn’t, because I was always cantoring or singing. So that was kind of the way I served my faith.” Since that time, he's learned many more instruments, citing his genetics for his musical gifts (his dad still sings in the choir at their current church in North Carolina).
While attending Centerville High School, Fr. Adam participated in football, basketball and track while also continuing to play music. Fr. Adam said, “I was that kid growing up that would take his guitar to football practice so after football practice he could go play with the jazz band.” When asked about his favorite subjects, he explained that he likes a lot of different ones, but that the two that have been consistently favored throughout his life are literature and history: "I think what I like about those two subjects is it helps you understand humanity. If you're going to study history, you kinda figure out who we are, where we came from, how we have evolved...or devolved." When it comes to literature, he enjoys a variety of genres, but especially theology, philosophy, fiction and history.
For college, Fr. Adam attended The University of Toledo, beginning as an engineering major, but then switching to Education. The reason for his switch? The priesthood. In the middle of his freshman year of college he entered in the discernment process. Fr. Adam said, “I thought education would be much better when it comes to my role as a priest, and also if the priesthood wasn’t what I was called to...I do enjoy teaching.”
When asked about other jobs he held before becoming a priest, Fr. Adam laughed and said there had been "many." During high school he worked in restaurants as a cook and continued that into college, "mostly because it cut your food bill by half." Also while in college, he worked home construction with a contractor and was a Zamboni driver. After graduation as he was awaiting his first semester to begin at seminary, he worked as a daytime manager of a cigar store in Dayton. During seminary, he “had the two most powerful keys: the bar key and the library key," and also enjoyed brewing beer (as another side job).
Fr. Adam also wanted to share that a fond memory he has from growing up is how his family would often take the priest out to brunch after Mass. When asked if he was hinting that we should start that tradition at SA-SEAS, he enthusiastically said, YES, stating, “In my time here, people have been wanting to get to know me, which is a natural thing. [But] that’s not the way I view time with homily. So if you’re looking for stories about my life…take me out to dinner!"
Fr. Adam's vocation journey to the priesthood began during college, though he recalls feeling "hints" before that time, experiencing the most profound spiritual moment of his life during high school.
He said, “In high school freshman year, I had been asked during spring break to work with power tools and build something for a Christian camp. And then as a junior in high school I spent half of my summer working at that same camp. And I got to see how the work of my hands was used to influence people for God. So after the campers went away one night I sat on this giant circular fence I had built (that turned out to be a rodeo)…I sat there and prayed to God ‘I want to be your instrument. I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m in.’ And that was my 17 year old self opening the door to priesthood. Did I think that meant celibacy and priesthood at the time? No. But I didn’t try to limit God’s capacity to move me as I need to.”
During his freshman year at the University of Toledo, he found himself in the discernment process and made several big changes: "Freshman year of college, I broke up with a girl I had been dating for a couple years and told God I wanted to give him a year to get my heart right before I dated anybody else. And in that time...I was really starting to read theology. I realized this was where God was calling me to think or discern. It got to the point where I couldn't really date anybody else until I answered the question if I was called to this or not," Fr. Adam explained.
In addition, he switched his college major from engineering to education due to his discernment process, feeling that education would be a good fit for his role as a priest.
Fr. Adam said, "Most of the time the way God works with discernment is it's got to be consistent urging over time to get past your stubbornness or our own idea of control of dreams or future." He decided to answer God's call, telling three very close friends from high school about his decision: "I told them before my parents that I was discerning the priesthood...they thought it made sense."
The spring/summer before graduating from college, Fr. Adam had submitted his application to the seminary. After graduating from the University of Toledo in December, he then began his first semester at seminary the following August.
Fr. Adam quickly found that his decision to switch his college major was a good one...his first priest assignment was at IHM school. He joked, "It's always an interesting challenge to try and instill the gospel in Kindergarteners."
When asked what he felt was the best part about being a priest, Fr. Adam said, “I’ll answer that in the words of John the Baptist. ‘Christ must increase, I must decrease.’ Part of the priesthood on a very personal spiritual level is making sure I’m leading people to Christ and not myself. And that takes a lot of thought and reflection. At the same time bringing people the Sacraments, being invited into their lives at moments like the new birth of a child or the death of a loved one, celebrating marriage, first Communion, all those things are just beautiful moments in someone’s life. And being invited into that family is humbling.”
He has found over the years that there are several aspects of ministry he is most passionate about, beginning first with the Sacraments and being there for people, "especially the sacrament of the sick or anointing someone before they die...but also just hearing confessions and being there for people as they walk with God," Fr. Adam said.
He is also committed to helping people learn how to pray and has recognized that different people have different needs in this area (silence or action, ritual prayer or unscripted conversational prayer, etc.). But, says, Fr. Adam, "No one teaches that! So, part of that is trying to walk with people to find a prayer life that is fruitful...which is why the end of my homily always has a challenge of prayer for the coming week. It's very intentional."
Fr. Adam has seen the incredible power of prayer within his own experiences. While in spiritual direction with someone who was really struggling with fear about entering the seminary, Fr. Adam asked this person to go pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Adam recalled, "As he walked out after praying for about 10 minutes he got the call from the seminary that he was accepted. That's one of those moments where God's timing perfectly lined up with my prayer. So I would consider that a miracle."
We also asked Fr. Adam what he wished everyone knew about the Catholic faith. His top three are:
1. Apostolic Succession
"[This] is the foundation for the validity of our Sacraments...for the Catholic church, scripture and tradition are equal pillars. And those two things help ground us and guide us like a North and a South pole. So I think that's one of the things that's absolutely important for us and the many other rites underneath us, and also the Orthodox tradition. So any church with apostolic succession is founded not only on Christ and the apostles but also principles that can restore us."
2. The Idea of Truth and Love
"Our world is replete with this idea that 'love is love,' which is - to be honest - a very junior high way of looking at love. So, love and truth means yes we love, we always love the person, but if we really love someone when it comes to things that they're doing that harm themselves we have to correct that. There has to be a moment of truth. There's lines on the playing field. Which sets us up as a prophetic voice in our time but also as a target. So I think a lot of people need to understand that love and truth is REAL love."
3. Faith and Reason
"The last thing is one of my favorite things ever written by John Paul II and that's "Fides et Ratio" - "faith and reason," and the introduction to that says that faith and reason are the two wings of a bird in which humanity flies to the heights. So when you look at other traditions, other churches, their ability to grapple with reason is sometimes lessened...Catholics have very nuanced positions on things because it's faith AND reason and how those two interact."
Speaking of some of Fr. Adam's favorite things, he has several favorite saints - many of whom have provided great reading opportunities for him, including St. Thomas ("I love the logic of St. Thomas and things he's given the church are treasures we've used for 800+ years...), St. Augustan ("he writes from the heart and the head. And for someone searching, there's probably no better saint to read and travel with"), St. Monica (St. Augustan's mother, "a champion for sticking onto prayer for a lifetime"), and Padre Pio ("the gifts he was given...just amazing."). Fr. Adam also has an affinity for the Eastern saints including Gregory of Anziansus and Gregory of Nyssa, as "The Eastern church focused much more holy spirit centered than Christ centered. So their theology gives you new perspective or lets you look at it in a different way."
Fr. Adam also has some advice for people who may be discerning a religious vocation: “Frequent the Sacraments. Be rooted in that. And then also, the key to discernment is being open. So, it might take God 10 or 15 years to slowly change your heart or put things in the exact right sequence or order in your life so you can recognize that. It’s not something that has to be discerned overnight….I think part of it is as long as you’re going to try and live a life that pleases God and be open to where he’s calling you, you’ll know when it’s right.”
And what does Fr. Adam plan to say to God when he meets him? Fr. Adam clarified that his answer is based on ASSUMING he's getting into heaven (which he joked "is a dangerous assumption"): "Some people have a vision of God where he is buddy-buddy. Some people have a vision of God where he’s authoritarian. We have to get past those. So if we only focus on God as our friend then God’s all merciful but he’s not all just. If we focus on God as all just then he’s not merciful. So what do you say to someone who’s known your heart and loved you anyway? I think it’s just ‘thank you.’”
HOBBIES & FAVORITES
Fr. Adam’s current hobbies and interests include drinking whiskey, rye and scotch (straight or on the rocks), playing musical instruments (specifically with friends), reading, shooting guns, and fly fishing.
He is also known for his large pipe collection. When asked what originally drew him to start smoking a pipe, he explained that it was financially driven as “pipe tobacco is cheap and cigars are expensive. I could afford a cigar, but not dinner.” Pipe tobacco allowed him to still be able to afford food. In addition, “It’s a lot easier to read while smoking a pipe than a cigar…because you can hold it in your teeth.”
When asked what he likes to cook, Fr. Adam explained that there has to be an “occasion,” but that he does enjoy cooking tried-and-true family recipes. “I have a recipe book from my mother including my grandmother and her recipes, so anything out of that is what I enjoy.” Some of his favorites? A red sauce that takes 6 hours to make and a pierogi recipe that takes all day to create (though it’s certainly worth it in the end). He also has a carrot cake recipe he likes and a wedding soup recipe that he creates from scratch.
We asked Fr. Adam what his favorite local food place has been since arriving to Milford: “Jet’s Pizza! It’s something I missed in Adam’s County. There’s one decent pizza place in Adam’s County but they have one oven. So if you call them, you set up an order for like 2 hours…pick it up in 2 hours. There was no stopping by and picking a pizza up!”
Other food preferences? He likes his coffee strong, dark and black, and most definitely prefers Skyline in the great Cincinnati chili debate. Though he’s not a “sweets” guy, he does enjoy a good canoli and the tiramisu at
Mama Di Salvo’s restaurant in Dayton.
Fr. Adam also enjoys traveling. His favorite state he’s visited so far is Alaska, but his dream trip includes an opportunity to recharge his batteries: “I’m right on the edge of introvert/extrovert. I can do the extroverted stuff for ministry but when I do a ‘recharge’ it has to be introvert. So my idea of a trip is not someplace crowded [or] where there’s a lot of people. One of the dream trips I’m going to do in a couple of years is Montana, that’s a big one for me as a fly fisherman. I was able to go to Ireland with the high school I taught at – really fun, but [we] did touristy, big stuff. So if I go back to Ireland I’d like to see some small towns [and] Scotland, I’d like to do some of the distilleries.”
He also is a sports fan! His own sports hobbies include sport shooting with shotguns, frisbee golf, bicycling, and fly fishing, observing, “All of my sports have become individual as I’ve gotten older.” Fr. Adam joked, “I have a lot of friends that will play recreational stuff and then screw their knee up…at a certain point in life sports can become an invitation to disaster.” He also enjoys watching football, hockey and the Olympics on TV, and admits that he can’t watch golf or baseball as it’s too slow.
Some more of Fr. Adam’s favorites?
Movie(s): A River Runs Through It, Stranger Than Fiction, A Big Year (Fr. Adam says “it’s a good one that a lot of people don’t know about…Steve Martin, Jack Black…[it’s] about birdwatching. It’s fantastic.”), and Secondhand Lions.
Book: Tales of the Long Bow
Music: Modern folk/the “newgrass” genre. Fr. Adam explains, “They use bluegrass instruments but do modern music.” His favorite newgrass songs are “Another New World” by Punch Brothers and “Big Country” by Bela Fleck (specifically from the Transatlantic sessions). Though on karaoke night, you’re most likely to hear Fr. Adam singing “Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
Our final question to Fr. Adam was, “What makes you laugh the most?” He replied with one word: “Wit!”
So if you’re up for a relaxing evening of pipe smoking, newgrass listening, canoli eating, witty joke cracking, Fr. Adam is “game!”
When it comes to “the future,” Fr. Adam has several exciting goals both for himself and the SA-SEAS parish region.
For personal goals, Fr. Adam plans to visit all 50 states…and he’s only 7 states away! He will accomplish seeing 3 of those states during a sabbatical he’ll be taking in 2021-2022. The trip will include visiting Montana where he’ll explore Glacier National Park. He’ll also be spending an entire week fly fishing.
When it comes to SA-SEAS, Fr. Adam is eager to work toward a thriving future with both parishes working together in a more unified approach: “One of my goals is to start getting the parishes to work together on various things. So we stop seeing it as St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The idea that they have to be independent – and I say this, knowing humanly we get attached to our parish and that’s a good thing – but we have to have a wider view of Catholicity. So, as a region, we need to start doing things together and not really care what place it’s at or who’s hosting it or who ‘owns’ it.”
Fr. Adam shared that since his arrival to SA-SEAS, he has received several questions from people about whether
St. Andrew or St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is his “favorite” parish. He explains, “Every child that has siblings has asked their parents who their favorite is. We need to get past that. As a spiritual father, when someone asks ‘Who’s your favorite or least favorite parish?’ it’s the same question.”
Some of his ideas for working together more?...
“The easiest thing is socially. Doing things socially in groups like the Respect Life group… I think we’ll find that it’s more life giving that way.”
“In fiscal responsibility...what does that look like for our two parishes? Then we have to answer the question about [SASEAS] school. How do we help it thrive? How do we make it sustainable? That’s a big one.”
“Another vision is how to be engaged with the people we have. If we’re talking about the 'new evangelization,' it’s not just about a marketing person. It’s about getting people to the point where they feel comfortable talking about their faith with others.”
So how do we start feeling comfortable to do that?
Fr. Adam says, “Part of it is adult formation – whether reading books together or talking about scripture together or just engaging with one another in a way that helps kind of empower [us] to go out….the idea is [that] as Catholics we’ve not been good at this. We’ve assumed a Catholic culture that is eroded. And then a lot of people’s automatic gut response to that is ‘well…that’s the job of the priest.’ [But] it’s not. The job of the priest is to support his people, to give them the Sacraments, to empower them to go out and change the world. So, getting people to own THAT is a big part of [the new evangelization].”
One example Fr. Adam gave was to invite our family and friends (once corona is over) who have stopped going to Mass to attend with us and to then go out to lunch afterward to talk: “We all know, probably school families or friends that just have stopped going [to Mass]." He explains that small moments like these present wonderful opportunities to practice being comfortable speaking about our faith.
When asked if he had any other messages he would like to share with the parish region, Fr. Adam humbly asked for patience: “Patience in the time of corona [and] recognizing that things are not normal. They might not be normal for a long time but God is still working, still moving.”
THANK YOU, FR. ADAM,
FOR SHARING YOUR STORY!