The Catholic Post interviews silver jubilarian Father Patrick Riordan

A native of Streator, Father Riordan was a member of Immaculate Conception Parish. He earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in education from Illinois State University, and taught for the Pontiac Public School District until 1986, when he entered Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.

After ordination he served as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception, Monmouth, St. Andrew, Oquawka, and St. Patrick, Raritan. He was named pastor and principal at Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur, in 1993; and pastor of St. Mary, Westville, in 1994; and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Silvis, in 1996.

Following a leave of absence in 1999, he served as parochial vicar at St. Anthony, Streator, and chaplain at St. Mary Hospital there. Named administrator of his home parish in 2002, Father Riordan went to St. Mary, Kickapoo, as pastor in 2002, and St. Mary of the Woods, Princeville, in 2009. He has been pastor of St. Joseph, Ivesdale, and St. Patrick, Tolono, since 2013.

Because the anniversary of his ordination is in December, Father Riordan has no immediate plans for a celebration. Mail may be sent to him at St. Patrick Church, 212 E. Washington St., P.O. Box K, Tolono, IL 61880.

What drew you to the priesthood?
I was first drawn to the priesthood during my five years in a Catholic grade school. I was in the public schools until fourth grade when my parents decided to enroll me in our parish school. During those five years in a Catholic environment, influenced by the priests and Sisters, I began to feel the draw to the priesthood. After eighth grade graduation I entered St. Jude Seminary in Momence. That lasted two and a half weeks. I was discouraged but never lost the sense that I was being called to the priesthood. It wasn’t until I was 39 that I was asked by a seminarian who was assigned to our parish for the summer if I had ever considered becoming a priest. I told him I had and proceeded to give all the reasons why it would not be possible or me to pursue a vocation to the priesthood. He shot down all my reasons for not answering the call and by January of 1987 I was in the seminary. The rest is history.

Who has been the biggest influence on your vocation and why?
My mother, a convert, is certainly at the top of the list of people who influenced my vocation. She was the first to tell me I should be a priest. When I told her that Father Myers (now Archbishop Myers), the vocation director, thought I had a vocation, she said, “I told you that you should be a priest.” Her unfailing faith in me, her encouragement and her prayers were invaluable.

What has given you the most joy in your priesthood?
I loved the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a child. It is such a privilege to be able to celebrate the Mass and this privilege has been the greatest joy of my years as a priest.

What have been the highlights of your various assignments?
The highlights of my various assignments have been offering Mass for the people and drawing them into a deeper understanding of this great gift to us. I was a teacher for several years before becoming a priest. As a priest I have loved teaching adult education classes. It is very satisfying to work with adults who continue to seek a deeper understanding and commitment to their faith.

Talk about your prayer life — what feeds you for ministry?
The Mass, the Divine Office, the rosary and spiritual reading are the basics that feed my ministry.

How has priestly ministry changed in the last generation?
Priestly ministry has become more of a challenge in the last generation with the further secularization of our culture. Sunday really takes a beating with the Lord’s Day being made secondary to other activities. My favorite church document is Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day”). Every Catholic should be familiar with this document. I would also recommend reading “The Land Without a Sunday” by Maria Augusta Trapp. We cannot afford to allow our nation to become “a land without a Sunday.”

Name your favorite saint (and tell us why).
My favorite saint is St. Jerome because of his passion for sacred Scripture and his untiring work in the study and translation of it.

Favorite prayer?
My favorite prayer has always been the Memorare. We need to seek shelter under the mantle of Our Lady; she will always keep us close to Jesus.

Favorite hymn?
My favorite hymn is “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” The image of the Good Shepherd leading us in our ministry and always there to guide, to strengthen and to comfort is so necessary to our ministry as priests.

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