Deacon Hanley's 'Clear Invitation from God'

"How do I feel getting ready for ordination?" Deacon Dan Hanley asked himself a couple weeks before his priestly ordination. "There is an excitement and anticipation like that of setting off on a great adventure. Our Lord calls me to the priesthood and by His grace I have been able to say yes, but it is also a great unknown." Hanley graduated from Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., and from the University of Virginia with a bachelor?s degree in history. During his years of undergraduate study, Hanley said he "basically stopped practicing" his religion. He returned to it after being invited by a friend to attend Mass, where there were pretty girls. At Mass he was reminded that it was through the Eucharist that Christ is really present on earth. After college, he taught history at a Catholic high school for two years before working as a staff member at the U.S. Senate. He began to think about pursing a religious vocation, but dismissed it because he enjoyed his job and had a strong desire for a wife and family. It was his parents that urged him to listen to the will of God. "I would say that my vocation grew out of theirs," Hanley said. "They raised six children in a home of great love for the Church. Their desire for us, like all parents, was that we be happy, but they knew that this happiness can only be found in seeking and doing the will of God. I would say that this is the basis by which I was able to listen for my vocation from God and respond to it." Continuing with his own plans for his life, Hanley entered law school and continued working on the Hill. Toward the end of his first year of law school, Hanley received "a clear invitation from God" to enter the seminary. In his time at North American College in Rome, he said has grown in closeness to the Holy See ? especially in the transition time between the death of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Also, by interacting with Catholics from across the globe who travel to Rome, Hanley said he has "realized in a very tangible way the universality of the Church." Hanley was ordained a deacon last fall at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter?s Basilica in the Vatican. This year, he prepares for his June 11 ordination at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. While he doesn?t know what to expect, Hanley is looking forward to this new phase of his life. "Priests are sent to preach the Gospel to a world that does not always desire to hear it, and are commissioned to bring the sacramental presence of God to earth. As new priests we set out with the help of our Lord to accomplish this mission, but we do not know where it might lead us."

Copyright ?2005 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2005