For four years, Father Chuck Dornquast has served as “team priest” for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That means he often has a front-row seat to the nail-biting plays, passes and field goals that make up the game of football.
Father Chuck now has a front-row seat to how God is working in the lives of young men and women calling them to serve His Church. This is the same call he experienced as a young man growing up in Zephyrhills attending St. Joseph Parish.
“During my freshman year of high school, I was able to participate in my first over-night retreat. During Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a presence stirred within me that I hadn’t known before. I was overwhelmed with mercy, love and an invitation to give Jesus to others. The following week, I called the Office of Vocations and waited for the opportunity to visit the seminary the following year as a high school sophomore,” said Father Chuck describing how he experienced that first call.
He entered the seminary right after high school graduation at the age of 17 and spent nine years in formation. First, he was called by God to become a priest. Now, he has been called by Bishop Gregory Parkes to serve as Vocations Director of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
The path to priesthood was an incredible journey for him and the road wasn’t always easy.
“There were many challenges within my discernment and within my own family life. However, through it all, I experienced Jesus beckoning me more deeply into His heart and the gift of belonging to His holy family,” said Father Chuck.
“Priesthood is an incredible gift that has been given to me and each day I grow in gratitude for this gift,” added Father Chuck.
In his new role, Father Chuck will help men in their response to God’s call to diocesan priesthood and help them through the application process to enter the seminary. He will also accompany and mentor existing seminarians and assist young women who are discerning a call to religious life.
He is enthusiastic to bring back a few events from the past such as the Advent Discernment Retreat and the Seminarian Adventure Trip. He also plans to be a fixture at Catholic schools across the Diocese. He is also hoping to introduce new initiatives to continue to foster a culture of vocations in our Diocese, building on the great work already completed by previous Vocation Directors.
When he encounters a young person who perceives a call to priesthood or religious life, he has some great advice he plans to offer:
“Savor it. Lean into it. Make time each day to let the Lord be with you in prayer. Also, reach out to your local parish priest and share the experience with him. They’ll help you grow in discovering that gift which you’ve been given,” said Father Chuck.
If you have questions about vocations or feel that God is calling you to serve as a diocesan priest, call (727) 345-3452 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.