Deacon Watson sees the church as a beacon of hope for the world

Deacon Watson sees the church as a beacon of hope for the world

Deacon Watson sees the church as a beacon of hope for the world

Note: Archbishop William E. Lori will ordain six men to the priesthood on June 22 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Motherland. The following is a profile of one of these future priests. New profiles of the other new priests will be added to the Catholic Review website daily from June 16 to June 21. Here to read them.

For Deacon Zachary Essex Watson, serving as a priest for the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be an opportunity to serve a church he calls a beacon of hope for the world.

“By proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the light still shines in the darkness,” said Deacon Watson, a 30-year-old native of Olathe, Kan., who is preparing for his June 22 priestly ordination. “This is very important to me personally in my own faith, that in the midst of the darkness – of the world, of my life, of the way things are – there is light. There is light that comes from Jesus.”

Deacon Zachary Watson at his transitional deacon ordination, May 20, 2023, at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in the Fatherland. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

As a young man, the idea of ​​becoming a priest occasionally crossed Deacon Watson’s mind. However, it wasn’t until he attended the University of Kansas as a history and political science double major that he seriously considered it. With the help of his mentors at the university’s Newman Center, Deacon Watson learned how to ask what God wanted to do with his life and how to seek answers.

“Ultimately, it was the realization that I think this is what I’m made to do — how my whole life is going in this direction,” he said.

Due to his deliberative nature and a long process of germination, few in his circle were surprised by his decision to become a priest.

When asked what additional strengths he brings to his new role, he noted the importance of being easy-going. He said it “gives people the freedom to be themselves. … They don’t have to hide anything.”

Throughout his journey to the priesthood, Deacon Watson has valued building relationships with those around him and having shared opportunities for learning and growth.

He entered St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park in the fall of 2018. In his pastoral missions, he enjoyed making connections with parishioners.

“You work alongside them as you get to know them,” he said. “It’s not strictly work – it’s a lot more involved than that.”

While following each pastor and learning to live a priestly life, he worked with youth groups, supported preparations for confirmation and helped provide pastoral care for the sick. At every mission, he found the people to be very welcoming and encouraging.

He currently serves at St. Clare and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Essex. His previous assignments were at Our Lady of the Fields, Millersville; Immaculate Conception, Towson; St John the Evangelist, Frederick and St Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor, Buckeystown; St. Joseph, Cockeysville; and Towson University’s Newman Center.

While many see the priesthood as a life of sacrifice, he observes that “on some level, every life involves sacrifice – however you do it right.” He sees the priesthood more as a different way of loving people.

Deacon Watson said he looks forward to being with people at the sacraments and Mass and building relationships within his parish community. Whether working with young people preparing for confirmation, families preparing for baptism, or couples preparing for marriage, he notes, “These are the times when you have the chance to meet people on the same journey of faith and help them to grow and grow. beside them.”

In terms of hobbies, Deacon Watson started playing the piano when he was 10 years old and took up the organ during college. He also enjoys cycling, reading novels and running.

He does not see that his vocation sets him apart from others, but brings him closer to them. “We’re all just human beings with the same worries and concerns and hopes and dreams,” he said. “In my experience, people often think that my life is much different than theirs, and often that’s not the case.”

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