Navy ensign and newly ordained priest Jason Allan wants to "repay the graces"

North Texas Catholic
(May 17, 2021) Feature

Bishop Michael Olson presents a chalice and paten to Fr. Jason Allan. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)

Bishop Michael Olson presents a chalice and paten to Fr. Jason Allan. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)

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FORT WORTH — Politics, protests, and a presidential election — witnessing the highs and lows of democracy in our nation’s capital was interesting yet disconcerting for Jason Allan.

The Keller native recently completed his studies for the priesthood at Theological College, the national seminary of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“Being in D.C., you not only saw the craziness on the news but the blockades around the National Mall and Capitol Building,” he explained. “It’s nice that the parish where I served was a space almost untouched.”

Ordained a transitional deacon in March 2020, Allan was assigned to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament where he preached at Masses and baptized parishioners. Most of the congregants are government workers.

“They come together to worship despite whatever political disagreements they may have with one another,” the deacon observed. “The parish is a safe haven in that way.”

Now back in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Allan is one of six men who received the Rite of Ordination from Bishop Michael Olson on Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Arlington. The same day, he celebrated his first Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller.

Allan entered the seminary nine years ago after graduating from Keller High School. An active member of the Squires — an official youth group of the Knights of Columbus — and a former religious education teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (SEAS) Parish, the 27-year-old was considered “very religious” by the people who knew him. But the choice to pursue a priestly vocation still surprised his parents, Nancy and Tom.

“I had plans for him and that wasn’t it,” explained Allan’s dad, a retired Naval officer. “He always said he wanted to be an engineer and go into the Navy. At the same time, he was discerning a vocation.”

The teenager sought advice from Monsignor E. James Hart, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at the time, and Gabe Gutierrez, the parish’s former youth minister, before making his decision.

“We’re very proud the priesthood is his chosen vocation,” said the elder Allan, who urges the parents of future seminarians to “let your son follow his heart if that’s his calling. They need the support of family.”

A slow camera shutter shows motion blur of parishioners as they move after receiving the Eucharist from Fr. Jason Allan, center, and his assistants during the celebration of his first Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller, on May 23, 2021. (NTC/Ben Torres)

Fr. Jason Allan distributes the Eucharist during the celebration of his first Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller, on May 23, 2021.

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Now that he is ordained, Fr. Allan is looking forward to “being in the parish fulltime and involved in people’s lives as they come to church to worship, grow in their faith, and pass on that faith to their children.” He serves as a parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton.

Meeting a congregation’s spiritual needs for counseling and instruction is an important part of ministry, but Allan believes a priest’s greatest responsibility is celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments.

“By celebrating Baptisms and weddings, as well as being with families at the end of life, you become immersed in their lives,” he continued. “We need the sacraments to grow in grace and deepen our relationship with God. A priest makes the sacraments accessible to people and helps them to appreciate their significance.”

As Allan prepared for the ancient rite that will enable him to minister in God’s name as a priest, he continued to rely on prayer — particularly the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. During his first years of formation, the exercise of praying at various times of the day and night was an obligation.

“Since the pandemic happened, and now that I’m a deacon, I’ve tried to be more attentive to praying the breviary,” he explained before his ordination. “The Psalms contain the full gamut of human emotion. There’s a real richness in those very poetic prayers.”

The former SEAS altar server finds guidance in the scripture passages.

“Emotions expressed in the Psalms are a means of relating to the rest of the Church and humanity at large,” Allan added.

Commissioned an ensign in the Navy last May, the young recruit will see active duty as a Navy chaplain after serving in the diocese for several years. Allan credits the examples of faith he saw growing up in SEAS for his vocation.

“My time in seminary, and various assignments in every corner of the diocese, helped me grow in my capacity to be a priest,” he said. “I hope to repay the graces I’ve received in my ministry.”

Editor's note: This article was updated June 3, 2021.

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