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Former lawyer eager to begin life as priest

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For Deacon Charles C. Pavlick, the hardest part of the past year has been waiting for his new life as a priest to start. 

As the year went on and his final year of seminary continued, “I just wanted to be in the parish, and really be a priest,” said Deacon Pavlick, 53, who discerned a call to the priesthood after a career as a lawyer

As “an older person coming in,” he said the six years spent preparing to become a priest were important, even after discerning the question of “what is God calling me to do and who is he calling me to be.”

There were also “all these little steps along the way that let you know if you can do it,” he said, noting he was happy to discover that sharing a bathroom down the hall and “being pleasant at a very early hour” were within his powers.

His first parish assignment will be at St. Timothy Church in Chantilly, one of the larger parishes in the diocese. He was there for the summer and on weekends while attending Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and has been staying in the rectory since late March, while Virginia has been under a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

After “getting a head start here getting to know people,” being able to stay means “I don’t have to say a lot of goodbyes,” something that has been difficult every summer as a seminarian. “Each parish has its own personality and feel. And I have been blessed with wonderful people,” he said. He previously served at St. Philip Church in Falls Church, Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls and St. Ambrose Church in Annandale.

He appreciates life in the rectory at St. Timothy’s, where each priest gets some necessary private time, but they also “make the time to do some things together as a group — pray, eat, socialize. We do lunch together, our main communal meal of the day after noon Mass, and it kind of gives a focus to come together for that.” 

He also loves the “rhythm of praying the psalms” at morning and evening prayer to anchor the day and looks forward to praying the Liturgy of the Hours with his new community.

One of the highlights of the past year as a deacon has been preaching, he said. “As you do it more and more, you get to know the Gospels better, and when you’re preparing to preach each week, it’s more of a prayerful reflection, in depth, because you’re spending your week with the Gospel.” 

He also said that getting to know a parish affects his preaching. “You’re trying to relate the Gospel to the specific lives and faces you know. It’s challenging, but really rewarding seeing the theology applied in real people’s lives.” 

Miller can be reached at Leslie.Miller@catholicherald.com or on Twitter at @LMillerACH.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020