After priestly ordination, Father Sam Maul brings sacraments to God's people
FORT WORTH — St. Joseph always had a special place in Father Sam Maul’s heart. His parents, Rick and Janna Maul, named him Samuel Joseph at birth and, as a teenager, he chose the name Joseph again for Confirmation.
Last year, the seminarian was ordained a transitional deacon on March 19, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and his May 22 ordination to the priesthood occurred during the Year of St. Joseph. Designated by Pope Francis, the special year marks the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s declaration naming the earthly father of Jesus as Patron of the Universal Church.
“St. Joseph has definitely been praying for me during this time,” said Fr. Maul who entered the seminary after graduating from L.D. Bell High School in 2012. “It’s been both a challenging and rewarding time.”
Having completed his final year of theology courses at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, the former St. Michael parishioner is now preparing to serve the community of St. John the Apostle in North Richland Hills as parochial vicar on July 1.
Fr. Maul explained some of the challenges he and other seminarians experienced during the yearlong COVID crisis.
“We were ordained deacons the day the country shut down so what we expected to do as deacons never came to fruition,” he said, explaining the usual opportunities to preach, visit the sick, baptize, and preside at marriages were greatly reduced. “My ministry was limited because I was living in a house with 70 people, and we were all extremely careful about COVID. If one of us became infected, we’d have a big problem at the seminary.”
As a transitional deacon, he assisted at Our Lady of Grace Parish in San Antonio, focused on academics, and completed a thesis for his master’s degree in divinity.
“In the fourth year, a lot of our courses are practicum courses,” Fr. Maul pointed out. “We learn how to preside at liturgies as a priest. There are courses in Confession and Anointing of the Sick.”
After ordination, the 27-year-old eagerly put into action what he’d learned. He returned to St. Michael Parish on May 23 to celebrate his first Mass.
“In general, a priest’s responsibilities are the promises made at ordination to pray — praying for the people and maintaining a good prayer life,” said Fr. Maul, who recites the Anima Christi (Soul of Christ) after every Mass. “Saying Mass and bringing the sacraments to people are the biggest responsibilities.”
His nine years in the seminary — spent at both the Theological College at Catholic University of America and Assumption Seminary — were transformative.
“Part of seminary formation is our human formation. We learn to adhere our lives — not just our spiritual lives, academics, or how we interact with people — but we conform our lives to the life of Christ and the life of the Church,” the Bedford native explained.
That’s a challenging aspect of formation for a lot of men in the seminary.
“But it’s also the most rewarding,” the priest continued. “It’s a maturation process. We learn and grow into who we were meant to be in our vocation.”
Experiencing a global pandemic during his last year of training also shaped his expectations for the future. Many times, ministry involves a crisis.
“Did COVID change me? Definitely. I think it changed the world and the way people perceive their lives. I’m not immune to that. I’m going to be prepared for just about anything after what we’ve been through,” he said, repeating a comment heard from a San Antonio parishioner.
After years of classes, pastoral assignments, and soul-searching discernment, anticipating ordination seemed “surreal,” according to Maul.
“The past decade of my life has been in preparation for the priesthood,” and now that mode of life is over, he added. “It’s strange, exciting, and wonderful.”
Editor's note: This article was updated on June 4, 2021.