Take 5 with Father: Unexpected graces
HE IS: Father Philip Petta, pastor of Holy Family of Nazareth Parish in Vernon, St. Joseph Parish in Crowell, and St. Mary Parish in Quanah. Previously he was pastor of St. Peter Parish in Lindsay for five years. Immediately after his ordination, he was assigned to St. Matthew Parish in Arlington.
THE CALL: A student of history (he holds a history degree from Texas A&M University), Fr. Petta was an Episcopalian who delved into the Nicene Creed and early Church history. He converted to Catholicism in 2004 and wanted to enter seminary right away, but was required to wait two years. He was ordained on June 4, 2011.
RAVENOUS READERS: Fr. Petta holds a Sunday night book club that reads an eclectic mix of Church teaching, Scripture, religious history, and the occasional Catholic novel. “When I started this in Lindsay, I thought, ‘We’re not going to have anybody show up.’ The place was packed. There’s a big, big thirst of people to be taught what the Church teaches and why.”
PLANNING AHEAD: A career in insurance, plus a lifetime love of chess, have taught him the value of planning ahead. He’s added handrails to the steps at his parish.
UNEXPECTED GRACES: Anointing of the Sick or helping a parishioner through a difficult situation, while “drawing on the strength of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother,” can be a source of consolation and blessing. “The unexpected graces of being a priest are amazing. A priest should always keep himself open for the possibility of grace, even when you aren’t looking for it and the situation seems bad.”
ON THE ROAD: Fr. Petta makes an 82-mile journey on Sunday to celebrate Masses at three parishes, “which makes for a busy Sunday, but it’s wonderful because the people are so grateful to have a priest bringing them the sacraments. The people here in West Texas are nice and wonderful and loving.”
SOURCE AND SUMMIT: “The Church has taught from the very beginning, the earliest writings, that the bread and wine becomes the Body and the Blood of Christ. Christianity stands on the Eucharist.” The Eucharist drew him into the Church.
THE TAKEAWAY: “Be an adult in your faith, don’t remain a child. Have an adult appreciation of the Mass and the Church. Be curious.”