2015-07-03 / People

City native, former flight instructor ordained

Matthew Gregory, who grew up in South Portland, hopes to one day be ordained to the priesthood. (Courtesy photo) Matthew Gregory, who grew up in South Portland, hopes to one day be ordained to the priesthood. (Courtesy photo) Matthew Gregory, a South Portland native and graduate of Cheverus High School, was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert P. Deeley at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Sunday, June 21.

The diaconate, priesthood and episcopacy comprise the three holy orders in the Catholic Church. The designation of “transitional deacon” indicates that although the individual will always be a deacon by virtue of his ordination, the expectation is that he will one day be ordained to the priesthood.

“As June 21 quickly approaches, I am filled with a great sense of peace,” Gregory said. “At the same time, I am excited and I can’t wait to serve the people of Maine as a deacon. It brings me great joy to know that God continues to call me every day in service of the church. It seems like just yesterday I was reaching out to the vocations office for the first time and now I am preparing for ordination to the diaconate. This moment has been a long time coming and I am so grateful to almighty God for calling me to serve Him and His people.”

Every seminarian has his own compelling backstory. Each journey to discerning a call to the priesthood is unique. Gregory is no different. In 1999, he attended flight school at ATP Flight School in Jacksonville, Florida, earning his commercial pilot license and flight instructor rating. For nearly seven years, Gregory taught at various flight schools and also worked in aircraft sales.

In 2006, Gregory chose to leave the aviation industry and return to Maine, where he pursued a career in experiential marketing. Growing up, he had never considered a vocation to the priesthood, but after achieving a boyhood dream in flight and finding his way home, he sensed there was something more he was called to do.

“I worked for a company in Portland called Pierce Promotions,” Gregory said. “I worked for them for over three years putting together mobile tours for various Fortune 500 companies. God was clearly at work when I began working for Pierce. It was shortly after I was hired that I began to discern my call to priesthood. My work schedule allowed me to go to Mass each morning at St. Joseph Church in Portland. I would also go to St. Joe’s during my lunch break and spend time in prayer before the tabernacle. The combination of daily Mass and spending time with Our Lord present in the tabernacle was central in hearing God’s call and having the courage to say ‘yes.’”

In 2010, he began formation at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. A year later, he transferred to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary (formerly Blessed John XXIII) in Weston, Massachusetts.

“My time in the seminary has been a true blessing. As I look back over my four years of formation, it’s amazing, and at the same time humbling, to see the work which God has done and continues to do within me,” Gregory said. “Arriving at this point in my journey to the priesthood has not been easy, but it has certainly been worth it. The various obstacles along the way have been blessings in disguise. It has been through the struggles that my faith has grown, my love for God has deepened, and I have come to realize just how great God’s love is for all of His children.”

With his ordination to the transitional diaconate, Gregory was able to celebrate the sacrament of baptism, witness marriages, preside at funeral rituals outside of Mass, proclaim the gospel, and preach homilies. After completing a summer assignment in the Diocese of Portland, he will return to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary for a final year of theological studies and priestly formation.

As he approaches his ordination to the transitional diaconate, Gregory is grateful for the many people who have made this day possible.

“I could not have come this far without the love and support of my family, my friends, my brother seminarians, seminary faculty, and the many priests and men and women religious whom I have encountered along the way. Of course, my heart is with Our Blessed Mother who guided me back into the Church and revealed to me the call to priesthood. It is through Our Lady that I have come to know more intimately and have fallen in love with Jesus Christ, and so I owe her a great deal of thanks. She always points us to her son, and so I joyfully give myself to God and the church through Mary our Mother.”

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