|Fr. Jason has studied philosophy in New York and theology at the Regina Apostolorum in Rome|
Fr. Jason is 32 years old. Although he was born
in Alexandria, Minnesota, he grew up in Forest Lake, where
his parents still live. Every Sunday, he went to Mass
at St. Peter Parish (in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis)
and made his first communion at eight years of age.
Jason began his education at St. Peter’s parish school, and
went to high school at Forest Lake Senior High. He
played baseball and was on the wrestling team, but his
passion was always for the arts. After graduating from high
school, Jason attended the College of Associated Arts, in St
Paul, where he began to pursue a career as an
illustrator. However, it was precisely during his college days when
Christ crossed his path. After attending a Mass during a
retreat, Jason left convinced of his calling to the priesthood.
A few months later he joined the seminary of the
Legionaries of Christ.
“Everyone was surprised,” Jason said, “especially me.
It was a sudden, complete change of the trajectory of
my life. But Christ’s call was so strong, so attractive,
I left everything joyfully.”
Fr. Jason has studied philosophy in New
York and theology at the Regina Apostolorum in Rome. When
he was not studying, he did youth work as well
as development work for the Legion in the United States.
“I found my years of study and internship to be
among the best of my life. Not because of what
I did, or the experiences I had, but because it
was marvelous to see God’s action in the lives of
the people I met.”
For several months before his ordination,
Fr. Jason assisted Fr. Michael Shannon LC at Our Lady
of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek, Arizona. He also worked
at the eastern campus of Arizona State University.
“It is a
great grace to work with the people in Arizona. They
are truly wonderful and kind. It is an honor to
Jason’s parents are Doug and Elaine Smith. Jason’s younger
brother, Aaron, is also a Legionary, preparing for the priesthood
* * * * *
Fr. Jason Smith’s vocational testimony
for a hockey game, I wouldn’t be a Legionary priest
|Fr. Jason Smith LC at his first Mass, with his brother, Br. Aaron Smith LC.|
As a good Minnesotan, I naturally considered hockey
as divinely inspired, a sign of God’s love for us.
But it’s what happened after the game that took me
by surprise and lead me to know my priestly vocation.
During my first year at college, I often went
to the rink at the University of Minnesota with my
friends. After one such event —ending in a double overtime
victory for the Golden Gophers, and a long celebration— I
returned home in the wee hours of the morning, too
tired to get out of bed until Sunday afternoon.
Stumbling upstairs for something to eat, I found my Dad
sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. Opening the
fridge, I heard from over my shoulder: “Jason, did you
go to Mass this morning?” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t.
Quickly I tried to think up the perfect excuse. None
came. Trying to hide behind the refrigerator door, I quipped
“No, I didn’t go”. Without looking up Dad replied solemnly,
“Go tomorrow then.”
It was my first
Monday morning Mass ever. I was struck by how quiet
the Church was, and how empty. I sat about halfway
up and waited. Little by little people began to filter
in. Then an attractive girl sat down a few pews
behind me. How is it I find a girl like
this now and not last Saturday evening? It must be
God’s providence! I decided the sign of peace was the
perfect time to introduce myself. When the moment came I
turned around and, to my surprise, she passed me a
note. I put it in my pocket pretending it happened
all the time.
When I got home I opened
the note. It read something like this: “It’s good to
see someone young attending daily Mass. You must really love
|Fr. Jason Smith LC with his parents, Elaine and Doug smith of Forest Lake, Minnesota.|
your faith! I want to let you know about a
group of young people who pray and study scripture Wednesday
evenings. If you would like to come, here is my
number.” I decided I could find time in my packed
schedule to go.
That’s when it occurred to me
I hadn’t seriously looked into my Catholic faith since Confirmation.
What would I say? What would I pray? Where was
my Rosary? I found it stuffed in the bottom dresser
drawer along with a pamphlet of prayers. As to what
I would say, I went to my Dad’s study and
checked out his library. It had books on music, history,
politics —but the largest section was religion. I found one
book called, “True Devotion to Mary”. It seemed like a
good place to start since it was short.
never read beyond the introduction, but the book changed my
life. It explained how St Louis de Montfort, a priest
who tirelessly preached the Gospel and underwent extraordinary trials, spread
devotion to Mary throughout France. It was my first encounter
with the life of a saint. I marveled how someone
could dedicate himself entirely to Christ, even to the point
of heroism. It was precisely then that I renewed the
resolution I had made a two years earlier to pray
and sincerely live my faith.
A few months later
I went on a retreat with the youth group. It
was the first time the priesthood entered my mind. During
the consecration, as I gazed at the elevated host, I
thought to myself —in words that were my own, but
which carried a resonance I will never forget— if there
is one thing I should do it’s that. It was
the defining moment of my calling. I was taken entirely
by surprise. I knew I had to look into the
priesthood, but I didn’t know how or where.
make a long story short, the same girl who gave
me the note in church then gave me a brochure
on the Legionaries of Christ. It had testimonies of the
young men who entered the year before. I read it
and was convinced. I called and asked for an application.
A Legionary came to visit. I went to candidacy. I
joined. My younger brother followed the next year.
then the years have passed by like a whirlwind. There
is much more I could write, but the essential is
simple: Christ crossed my path, called, and by his grace
—definitely not my own strength— I found the courage to
drop everything and follow him. I have never looked back.
Our Lord’s presence and the needs of the Church have
captivated my attention ever since.
Now only a few
days away from priestly ordination, in my conversations with Christ,
I continually thank him for the many gifts he has
given me: my faith, my wonderful parents and brother, my
Legionary vocation, and above all, his presence and friendship throughout
I can hardly believe I have arrived
at the foot of the altar. It seems almost a
dream; that I’ll wake up, finding myself back in Minnesota,
late for a hockey game. But it’s true. God’s plans
are far beyond, and far better, then my own.
|Soon-to-be-Fr. Jason Smith LC waits for ordination with 54 other Legionaries during ceremonies at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.|
day I have one simple prayer that I’ll
say then, and every day of my priesthood: “Lord Jesus
Christ, may I be holy, live a priesthood that is
fruitful for the Church, and always be faithful to the
inspirations of the Holy Spirit.”
Then I will continue
saying yes to God —no matter what new surprises come—
in thanksgiving to him and for the salvation of souls.