Deacon Wille: The Lord has prepared me for this from the very beginning

While visiting his alma mater, St. Philomena School in Peoria, this week, Deacon Patrick Wille got involved in a number of activities at a school assembly. Among them was seeing how fast the students could get ready for Mass, including putting on vestments and setting the altar. Here, second-grader Aidan Williams demonstrates his best prayer posture for Deacon Wille. (Provided photo)

Deacon Patrick Wille said he felt like the Lord was preparing him for the priesthood from the very beginning of life. It just took him some time to realize it.

“When my mom was pregnant with me, she brought me to the adoration chapel at St. Philomena,” his home parish in Peoria, he said. “As a child, she would bring me to pray there, to go to daily Mass.”

Deacon Wille’s first Mass will be on Saturday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m. at St. Philomena Church in Peoria. A reception will follow.

Going to St. Philomena School and then Peoria Notre Dame High School provided a good foundation, but Deacon Wille shared that he hadn’t quite developed an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.

That would come at the University of Illinois. While he was living at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, he had a roommate that was very faithful.

“Every night he would go and pray in the chapel,” Deacon Wille said. “His witness was very inspiring to me.”

Then came a “very powerful” confession during a retreat his freshman year that changed his life.

“It was from that experience that my heart was more open to the call to the priesthood,” he told The Catholic Post. “Having become a faithful disciple, I prayed more often, went to confession, went to Mass and came to know the Lord in a new way.”

Deacon Wille said it was then that God “invited me to be on the other side of the confessional and offer his mercy to others.”

He spent his final semester studying in Paris and the experience confirmed that the Catholic Church is, indeed, universal.

“Whether I’m in Peoria or Paris, it’s the same Eucharist, the same Jesus Christ made present on the altar,” he said.


After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Deacon Wille worked for Boeing in St. Louis and Chicago, but something was different. He prayed the rosary on the way to work each day, visited seminaries and started to ponder the Lord’s call more seriously.

He entered Mundelein Seminary to earn a master’s degree in philosophy and religion and went on to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, for his master’s degrees in systematic theology and divinity.

In addition to studying Spanish in Guatemala during his first summer break from seminary, Deacon Wille has been getting to know the Diocese of Peoria in Spring Valley at Nativity of Our Lord Parish; Rantoul at St. Malachy and Thomasboro at St. Elizabeth of Hungary; and Streator at St. Michael the Archangel. He was able to give homilies in Spanish at the Streator parish.

As he approaches ordination, Deacon Wille described himself as “joyful, ecstatic and fulfilled.”

“I’m eager to begin serving as a priest and spend my life for the people of the Diocese of Peoria,” he told The Catholic Post, adding that he hopes to be an instrument of God’s love in all he does.

At this Saturday’s Mass of Ordination, Deacon Wille’s vesting priest will be Father Jonathan Meyer of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

His first Mass will be that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at St. Philomena Church. A reception will follow.

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