by Megan Sheehan
Rev. Michael Feldtz ’86 likens his own vocation story to that of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In his pursuit of the priesthood at the age of 33, Ignatius found himself studying Latin in Barcelona among students much younger than himself.
Like Ignatius, Feldtz studied among classmates much his junior when he decided to enter the seminary and become a priest after what he calls, “a prior life.”
“I had professors who were younger than me,” said Feldtz. “I call it an indirect vocation, not a second vocation. It’s the Holy Spirit who can be credited for these things.”
At one time, Feldtz was discerning the priesthood while studying at John Carroll University. Life’s twists and turns had him finishing his college education at Cleveland State University, followed by a varied career.
Feldtz worked in insurance claims and risk management at a few international companies, work that took him to New Hampshire and Connecticut. At one point, he worked at a New York brokerage with a 90-minute commute. He returned back to Cleveland and was certified as a spiritual director through the Ignatian Spirituality Institute at John Carroll University, and while again discerning, eventually worked maintenance at a parish.
“I wanted to see what parish life was like on the inside,” he said of that particular job.
Feldtz notes that his road to the priesthood may seem unusual compared to most, but he also recognizes that the Holy Spirit guided him and nudged him throughout.
On May 19, 2018, Feldtz was ordained as a Diocesan priest in Cleveland. Earlier this year, on February 22, he was installed as Pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in Brooklyn, Ohio. These days his hope is to “bring the parish community together and to bring the community closer to God by teaching them how to pray and think.”
The seeds for this pastoral approach were planted while he was a student at Saint Ignatius. “The beauty of Saint Ignatius High School is that they teach you how to pray and think, so that you can make decisions to answer God’s call for you,” said Feldtz.
Feldtz credits the Sophomore Service program for drawing him in to wanting to serve others. He recounts bringing seniors to dinner at Riverview Towers on West 25th Street and cleaning out the rooms of those who could no longer stay at the apartments.
“That experience helped me to draw a line between faith and service and how it applies to real life,” said Feldtz. “We as priests are first called to be deacons, living a life of service to care for the poor, the hungry, disabled, and all those in need.”
“Doc Pennock ’64 was my theology teacher at Ignatius and he taught me a whole lot about prayer,” said Feldtz. “The legendary teachers of Saint Ignatius have a lifetime of influence on students and have taught us how to think, pray and serve.”