Welcome Fr. Gabriel Terrill

08-26-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Gabriel Terrill

Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ!

You have likely seen me around these past two months, and perhaps we have had a chance to speak. But, for those who don’t know me, my name is Fr. Gabriel Francis Alexander Terrill, but you can just call me Fr. Gabe. I am your new Parochial Vicar, and I am excited to be with you and serve you in my priestly ministry. To give you a better idea of who I am, I thought I might share a bit of my vocation story and how I became a priest.

My story is not an exciting one. It may sound cliché, but I always wanted to be a priest, for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I wanted to be a priest, a cowboy, an astronaut, and a monk-scientist (whatever that is). Over the years, however, I gained a healthy fear of space, a realization that modern day cowboys herd cattle more so than outlaws, and science is harder than it looks (I don’t have a mind for math, but I like the idea of mixing colorful liquids and watching beakers explode)! The one desire that remained in my heart was my desire to become a priest. The desire was immature at the time, but it grew along with me and with time I came to understand what that call truly meant. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I moved to Mesa, Arizona in 2001 with my Dad’s job. I grew up in a family of seven children (like the sacraments… kinda) and my mother and father. I am the second oldest, with a sister above me. Soon after moving to Arizona, I had my first reconciliation and received my first communion. The joy of these sacraments has sustained me in my journey, both to and through the priesthood. Immediately after receiving my first communion I began altar serving which impacted me greatly since I was able to assist at the mass in the sanctuary. With the reception of the sacraments and altar serving, my desire to become a priest continued to grow.

There have been many people who inspired me and continue to inspire me in my priesthood. The most in%uence among these was a Cistercian Trapist monk from Huntsville, Utah named Fr. Mary Patt. My family went to Fr. Patt ever since my Mother was a little girl. Growing up we would visit Fr. Patt every time we came to visit family in Utah. What struck me so much about Fr. Patt was his complete and total peace. He truly lived in but not of the world, and he exercised his faith with complete confidence in God. He was kind of like a Catholic Yoda, and his witness to Christ's peace inspired me to pursue the vocation God had planned for me, with the belief that God wasn’t calling me to be miserable. God was calling me to joy, peace and fulfillment.

In high school I started writing to a seminarian (someone discerning, studying, and being formed to the priesthood) and I discovered something crucial for my personal discernment. Priests and those being called to the priesthood have personalities. I realized through my correspondence with the seminarian, who is now a priest, that you could have hobbies, interests, strengths and %aws and still be a priest. Before this point, I thought priests just celebrated mass, ate cold soup, read latin, and slept the rest of the time (the idea of sleeping often has become more appealing to me now than when I was a teenager). With this revelation I was a!rmed in my desire to become a priest, and I continued to discern the diocesan priesthood in high school.

During my senior year of high school, I spoke with the vocation director for the diocese, got an application, and after months of meetings, psychological tests, and interviews I was accepted as a first year seminarian for the Diocese of Phoenix. For my first four years of seminary I studied philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio (Go Buckeyes?), and continued my studies with theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy (Go Spaghetti?). After four years in Rome, I was ordained a priest during the lockdown on June 6th 2020. That’s right, I am a pandemic priest. Shortly after, I started ministering at my first assignment at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Mesa, Arizona and a few months later started as the part-time chaplain at Seton Catholic Prep in Chandler, Arizona. Through my first three years of priesthood I have been humbled and blessed to serve as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am overjoyed to be with you as your new parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I already feel so welcomed and I am excited to get to know you and serve you in the years to come. In the meantime, please know of my prayers.