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Meet a Permanent Deacon Who Became a Priest

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/13/16

From NCR: 

Fr. James J. Grogan is running late for a morning appointment, and when he gets to the rectory he is profusely apologetic and ready with an explanation. “Not every newly-ordained priest has to help his son change a tire,” he says. But so it is with Grogan, ordained in 2015 for the Diocese of Trenton and now the associate at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Moorestown, N.J. At 59, his journey is unusual for a newly-ordained priest. Married for 25 years, he and his late wife, Ellie, lived in the parish where he now serves and they raised three sons, who are now 23, 25 and 26. Ellie died in 2007 from cancer. Ordained a deacon in 2004, Grogan earned a master’s degree in theology at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Because of his background, he was able to move towards priestly ordination with only a year in seminary. Previously, he was an executive for a firm specializing in crisis management and disaster recovery. When he told his bosses he was leaving to pursue priesthood training, they were flummoxed, knowing that a counter offer wouldn’t be persuasive. At the parish in Moorestown — an older, affluent community located outside Camden and Philadelphia, said to be a real-life model for the village charms in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” play — Grogan experiences a range of emotions in his priesthood. It is a parish with 5,300 families and more than 16,000 people. The sheer numbers fill the church with worshipers for Sunday Mass, but Grogan knows, despite that, there are many who remain outside the walls of the church by choice. For those part of Catholic life in Moorestown, Grogan has found himself deeply involved in their lives in his short time as a priest. “I get invited by people into the most sacred and most joyful moments, when a child is born and when a child is dying,” he says. “You are the only person in the room who is not family.”

Read it all.

Photo: NCR

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