Go with God

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 24, 2023) Take-Five-With-Father

NTC/Juan Guajardo

HE IS: Father Jonathan Demma, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls. He also served as parochial vicar of St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills. 

A JOURNEY: Fr. Demma studied engineering at Texas A&M University, but he left his junior year to join the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York. He lived in radical poverty as a Franciscan brother for nine years, doing outreach to the homeless and itinerant preaching. 

But “My heart longed to say Mass, and to hear confessions, and to baptize babies,” and he entered seminary in 2013 to become a diocesan priest.

ORDAINED: May 19, 2018, at St. Patrick Cathedral.

HOME AGAIN: Fr. Demma is “thrilled” to be assigned to Sacred Heart Parish, where he spent his pastoral year in 2015. “It’s incredible to come back to the people who helped form me to become a priest.”

HEART OF THE PARISH: Fr. Demma has found parishioners appreciative, welcoming, cooperative, and receptive to change and growth. “The biggest challenge is to keep up with their generosity.”

EXPERIENCE PAYS: He said his background in engineering and business helps him delegate construction projects, so he can focus on his priestly ministry. His years as a Franciscan brother taught him how to pray, preach, and connect with others.

SACRAMENTAL PRIESTHOOD: Fr. Demma’s favorite part of his day is celebrating Mass, followed closely by the joys of baptism and reconciliation.

“There’s something about washing away original sin and becoming, forever, a child of God in that moment that always strikes me when I’m pouring the water and saying the words.

“Right up there is confessions, particularly when you have someone who has been carrying something, been away, for so long ... They walk out with a freedom that they can’t get anywhere else … All you’re giving them is what Christ has given you.” 

THE CALL: “It’s worth it. It’s not an easy life to choose, but it is rewarding in ways a successful career can’t be.”

CHARGED: In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Demma shares in chaplain duties at Midwestern State University and United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls. 

Some days are filled with appointments and sick calls. “When you think about what it is that you’re really doing: forgiveness of sin, salvation of souls, bringing Christ to His children — that’s a good way to wear yourself out.”

AND RECHARGED: Fr. Demma appreciates the outdoors — hiking, camping, “just enjoying God’s creation and praying.” He also enjoys reading spiritual books, carpentry, and tinkering with electronics. 

PERSEVERE IN PRAYER: “Be flexible but diligent in your prayer, making sure you’re praying throughout the day, in and through all things. Recognize sometimes you just have to shut the door, shut everything down, and block out everything but Christ in that moment so you can be prepared for what’s coming next.”

PRIESTLY PRESENCE: “Just being present means more to the people in the community than we’ll ever know. It’s not because of who we are, but who we represent. This part of their life is important to the Church; it’s important to Christ. Just simply showing up can go a long way.”

KNOW THIS: Fr. Demma wants his parishioners to know “God loves them unconditionally. And no matter where they may find themselves, or no matter what’s been written into their past. The only thing that defines us is how we grow to love God and what we do with our future. There is hope there, when we live it with His grace. Always.”

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