You can never know where vocations will come from, or how they’ll grow, as this story from a paper in Phoenix reminds us:
Matt Lowry was starting out as an electrical engineer at Motorola and being nurtured for management. And he was actively dating. But the sparks that were flying were neither electrical nor romantic. Lowry was feeling the attraction to the Catholic priesthood.
When he opted for seminary, it meant cutting off a relationship with a woman. “I counted once — I had five relationships that lasted for six months or more and I was approaching marriage a couple times, and so I was seriously considering that,” he said. “It was only those times of deep discernment with a woman that really helped me discern that I realized I wasn’t to give myself away yet because I wasn’t sure who ‘myself’ was.”
He chose a seminary education. Now, he is embarking on a career where marriage is out of the question. On June 7, Lowry was one of three men ordained priests by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix in rites at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
“For a long time, and even now, I would love to be married, but I think I love being a priest, and I think God led me this way,” said Lowry, 29, whose first parish assignment is Holy Cross parish in east Mesa. The other two new priests, the Rev. Arthur Nave Jr., 27, and the Rev. José Jesús López, 34, have been assigned to parishes in Avondale and Cave Creek respectively. All three started work Tuesday.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Lowry was 7 when his father was transferred in 1986 to Arizona by the IRS. He grew up in St. Theresa parish in Phoenix and later graduated from Camelback High School. “I was really good in math and science, and my brother went into electrical engineering, and I said, ‘Well, that sounds good to me.’?”
He enrolled at Arizona State University. During college, Lowry helped the youth group at St. Theresa. Later, he took over as youth leader. That experience, including retreats, helped guide him toward ministry. Lowry went to World Youth Days in Rome (2000), Toronto (2002) and Cologne, Germany (2005), where young Catholics are challenged to recommit themselves to deeper spirituality.
He regrets he cannot attend the next Youth Day July 15-20 in Sydney, Australia. “I would have loved to go to Australia, just to recognize the universality of the church, that there is something bigger going on than just looking at my particular church,” he said. “There were people from countries all over the world who couldn’t speak the same language, but yet, we were unified in the Eucharist … It was just a great spirit of joy and peace and being one.” His Youth Day trips especially “got me really excited about the Catholic Church.”
During his senior year of the electrical engineering program, Lowry interned at Motorola. After he earned his engineering degree in 2000, he was offered two jobs. He was put into a rotation program “to grow me as a manager and to try to give me a big vision of the company,” he said. “I kind of joked that my ‘final placement’ was outside the company,” when he opted for seminary.
“To be honest, I never really considered being a priest until going on a retreat after high school,” he said. When a priest made the appeal, Lowry experienced a what-about-me? feeling. “I thought, ‘What if God is calling me to be a priest?’?”
“What if?,” indeed. Check the link for the rest. It’s a great story.
Photo: by Ralph Freso, East Valley Tribune