I’m excited to be appointed the associate pastor here for the next two years. My name is Fr. Barry Saylor; still sounds weird to me to say Father! This has been a dream of mine since I was in 7th grade, so to finally be here is a true blessing.
A little about me, well maybe a lot since I’m a much later vocation than most coming into the priesthood. I grew up in Wisconsin Rapids, the younger of two children, with my brother Jeff. I was raised by my mother Jeannine with all my relatives living in the Wisconsin Rapids area. My father, Virgil passed away last August after years of complication from a lung disease. I first attended Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School then transferring to the public schools after 3rd grade, finally graduating from Lincoln in 86. I then went onto UW Eau Claire, joined the Army, and was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where I stayed after getting out of the Army four years later. I lived just outside San Antonio (in Cibolo) for 25 years.
During my time in San Antonio I worked in sales. I started with Chrysler after leaving the service for a short time and then spent 12 years with Saturn of San Antonio working in finance, sales management and internet sales. I was always the guy that said “did you notice that the headlights (or something else) changed on such and such car”, cars always interested me so it was a perfect fit. As Saturn was about to be deleted from the GM lineup, I began work- ing as a sales manager for Ace Fire Equipment. The automotive business didn’t lend much time for extra- curricular activities, but Ace Fire did. I became very active in my Texas home parish, Sts. Peter & Paul in New Braunfels, TX. I began the ministries of Eucharistic Minister, home bound minister Sundays after Mass, 5th & 6th grade youth teacher, 4th degree Knight, and ACTS (Adoration/ Communion/Theology/Service) retreat team leader. This last ministry is where I began to discern the call to priesthood.
After meeting a seminarian during a retreat, I revealed to him that I had often thought about priesthood, but after 30 had put it out of my mind thinking I was too old. It was through his prompt- ing that I got my first spiritual director who walked with me for a year discerning the call. After that year, I applied with the Archdiocese of San Antonio and was accepted. I sold my house and be- longings (took 18 months) and entered Assumption Seminary with studies at the Mexican American Catholic College in pre-theology. During my second year of formation and through much prayer, I felt a strong call to leave San Antonio and come back to Wisconsin; closer to family.
I met with Fr. Alan Wierzba and Bishop Callahan during my Christmas break in December 2013. I then spent my last semester in San Antonio applying to transfer to the Diocese of La Crosse. I was accepted and placed at St. Francis de Sales Seminary outside Milwaukee for my four years of theology studies. The blessings I have received while being at St. Francis are many; Outstanding formation staff, caring professors and opportunities to visit the Holy Land, Rome, a summer in Alaska for Clinical Pastoral Education at Providence Hospital and a summer at Creighton University attend- ing the Institute of Priestly Formation. I graduated May 4th with my Masters of Divinity and was ordained to the priesthood just a week ago, June 30th in La Crosse by the Most Reverend, Bishop Callahan.
After 6 years in seminary, one would think you are well prepared for priesthood. I now see and realize that 6 years in a classroom isn’t nearly enough time to learn everything that a priest does. Although I’m very excited about being assigned to St. John’s in Marshfield and Christ the King in Spencer. I’m also nervous with all the firsts that I will be experiencing. I’m also looking forward to the many joys, laughs and even tears we will share over the next 2 years.
Thank you for opening your doors to an associate, I promise to each of you that I will do my best to bring the face of Christ with me wherever I am, learning as I go. I also look forward to meeting each of you on a personal level. Please continue to pray for me as I develop into a holy priest like Fr. Martin.
Father Barry Saylor