By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Dale Mallory first felt a call to the priesthood when he was a freshman in high school. “I didn’t act on it at the time,” said Mallory, a parishioner of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville.
Now 25, he said he kept having a nagging feeling in his heart to be a priest. “It might go away for a while, but it would always come back.”
Throughout high school and college, Mallory said he became lost in his ways and was “sinful and distant from the church. I wasn’t even confirmed.” He graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology in 2013 and worked for three years before he had the courage to talk with someone about that still nagging call to a vocation.
“I could no longer ignore the call, and with the encouragement and support of Father Tom Doyle I contacted Father Thom Hennen (director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport) in May 2015.”
Frs. Hennen and Doyle encouraged Mallory to visit different seminaries and get more involved with the Catholic community in Iowa City, where he lived at the time. “Every discernment retreat I attended, every Mass I served at, every step I took towards the seminary filled me with so much consolation. I prayed to God to show me where he wanted me to go and all signs pointed to the seminary, so that is where I went.”
Mallory said he wants to become a priest because he believes it is what God wants him to do. “He gave me back my life when I was lost in the world and I want to offer it back in service to him.”
After acceptance as a diocesan seminarian, Mallory was sent to St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., for his theology studies. “I love it! It is definitely a lot of work with all the classes, formation meetings and apostolic works we do but all of it is amazing. I get along great with all my seminarian brothers and we constantly support one another in our growth in faith and love of God and service to God’s people. I wouldn’t trade seminary for anything.”
His classes are split between St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and the University of St. Thomas. In pre-theology, seminarians focus mostly on philosophy at St. Thomas, which is next to St. Paul Seminary. Some classes at the seminary include Ecclesiastical Latin, Call to Ministry, Intro to Old Testament and Catechetical Foundations.
Mallory’s favorite form of prayer is lectio divina with the daily Mass readings and the Office of Readings. “I try to read them thoughtfully and spiritually, and then meditate on them, especially during eucharistic adoration.”His favorite Scripture reading is Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
“I think this reading was very comforting when I was coming back to the church and I still find it comforting when things are rough in life,” Mallory said. He hopes other people will encourage someone they think might have a vocation to the priesthood. “Sometimes someone just needs a little push in the right direction to get them started on the path to discernment.”
If all goes as planned, Mallory hopes to be ordained to the priesthood in the summer of 2022.