Switching tracks in earnest

First slide

"Priesthood had been on my mind since my last year of high school," said Drew Haissig,

a transitional deacon who has served at St. Agnes Church in Arlington since 2013.

But Deacon Haissig did not start his young adulthood on the path to the priesthood.

Born in Fort Benning, Ga., Haissig spent his early childhood moving around because of his father's career in the Army and, later, working as an industrial hygienist for the Navy. When he was in fifth grade, his Catholic family settled in Virginia Beach, and Deacon Haissig spent the rest of his childhood in the Richmond Diocese. His parents now live in North Carolina, and his sister lives in Illinois.

After graduating from Salem High School in Virginia Beach in 2005, Haissig headed to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to study engineering. Following in the footsteps of his military father, he joined the Corps of Cadets and Air Force ROTC. He stayed at Virginia Tech for two years.

"Over the course of my two years in college my desire for the priesthood gradually increased," he said. "I knew by the end of my second year I would have to commit my summers and the duration of college to the Air Force and then serve at least four years in the service, so I had to make a decision … It got to the point where I had to switch tracks in earnest."

Wanting a place that would foster his discernment,

Haissig transferred to Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. There, he majored in philosophy.

"Being there gave me a life of prayer, a Catholic life," he said.

When Deacon Haissig graduated in 2009, he applied to the seminary.

He enrolled in the Theological College at Catholic University in Washington, graduated and is now looking forward to entering the priesthood.

"I will enjoy celebrating Mass and hearing confession," said Deacon Haissig. "Those are at the heart of the priesthood."

Deacon Haissig's home parish is St. Veronica Church in Chantilly.

Stoddard can be reached at cstoddard@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015