Father Kyle Sahd
Hometown: Columbia, Pa.
Education: Holy Trinity School in Columbia, Lancaster Catholic High School, Bloomsburg University, St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome
Current assignment: Pastor of St. Theresa Parish in New Cumberland
Tell me a little bit about your childhood.
I have three other brothers, Dan, Chris and Tim. My dad and mom still reside in Columbia, Pa. We went to Holy Trinity School, which is now Our Lady of the Angels. Then all of us went to Lancaster Catholic High School. After that, I went to Bloomsburg University for four years and majored in secondary education, and specialized in political science and economics. I never got a chance to really teach political science and economics, but I taught different pieces of history.
When did you first consider the priesthood?
I think that it was always there. Some priests say it was always there, and I guess it was that way with me too. The most common years are the sacramental years of first Holy Communion and Confirmation. We had first Holy Communion in second grade, and Confirmation in sixth grade. For Confirmation, it was Bishop Dattilo’s first year as bishop of our Diocese. My brother Tim and I were confirmed in sixth grade.
Those years were very formative for me, thinking that maybe God was calling me to the priesthood, but I couldn’t put it in words at the time. But then it kind of faded away, until college. At Bloomsburg, Father McNeil was there as our campus minister. I went to the campus ministry house there, and that was a good formative time for me as well, and I discerned priesthood there a little more.
What would you encourage someone who is 20-22 years old to do, if they feel called but haven’t given it a lot of thought?
I would encourage them to pray, encourage them to take opportunities to get involved in Catholic campus ministry. Talk to your priest, get to know the other students in Catholic campus ministry. Oftentimes, we don’t get a change to pray because we’re so busy with other things, especially at college. But prayer is so important, because it’s in the silence that we hear the Lord speaking. The Lord is speaking to us, but we need to be able to listen and to hear him.
Ask your campus minister, “How am I able to pray in the midst of all that is happening in college, in the midst of all my responsibilities, in the midst of the stress?”
What did you do after college graduation, and when did you decide to enter seminary?
I graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2001. From that fall until the spring of 2008, I taught at York Catholic High School. For two years, I taught American history and world history for seventh and eighth graders. Then for five years, I taught American history for eleventh and twelfth graders.
The day after I got the job at York Catholic, which was June 29 or 30, my older brother Chris was being ordained in Scranton. We were in the cathedral, and I remember I became very emotional. That’s when I really began discerning that God was calling me. That was the lightning-bolt moment. I remember him walking down the aisle, and me thinking, “Maybe God is still calling me to be a priest.” Both my brother Tim and I were very emotional for the entire Mass. I felt the Lord was calling me at the moment.
How did your time at York Catholic impact who are you today as a pastor?
I had seven formative years teaching at York Catholic. The students taught me to be real. They taught me to teach how I am, instead of trying to teach like somebody else. The students pick out everything before you pick it out. That was a good lesson for me. I’m very, very grateful for my time at York Catholic.
What was your seminary experience like?
I was accepted by Bishop Rhoades in 2008, and spent two years at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa. I had a very good time there, learning about the faith from the Benedictines and having good friendships with my other classmates from the Diocese. Getting back into being a student at 28 was an adjustment, and St. Vincent gave me an opportunity to get back into that role.
I was at the North American College in Rome for four years – the Gregorian University for three years, and then the Angelicum for one year. I was there with a few other seminarians from our Diocese: Father Dill, Father Kuchinski and Father Morelli. We grew in the love of our faith, and we grew to know each other, which is a blessing for a priest.
I was there when Pope Benedict stepped down and Pope Francis was elected. I’ll never forget it. I just had just come back from class and was checking e-mails, and another seminarian who lives on my floor came in and said, “Pope Benedict resigned.” Well, how is that possible? I immediately went online to find the news. I went to Pope Benedict’s last audience in St. Peter’s Square, and we went to the rooftop of the North American to wave goodbye to him as he flew over the City of Rome when he left.
I also remember the night of Pope Francis’ election. We had Evening Prayer early that day so we could go down into the square and watch for the smoke. Being in the square with others from the college and from everywhere was the most beautiful thing. It showed me the universality of the Church, that we’re all part of the Body of Christ. The realization that we’re not alone, that we’re all in it together.
Do you have a favorite aspect of your ministry?
I like being with people whenever they’re sick, and up to the point of their death. I like hospital ministry, giving the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, being with the family and being with the person who is suffering. I like that aspect of the priesthood. There are so many people who are isolated and lonely, and just need someone to listen. We not only listen, but Christ has given us the ability to give the sacraments, to give them God’s strength in their time of need. We can give them the spiritual strength that they need. It’s good to bring the comfort of Jesus Christ, whether it be Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Anointing to those who are in need, homebound, in the hospital or in a nursing home.
I enjoy going to the parochial school. Father Dubois, our parochial vicar, goes there as well. He goes many times in the morning or afternoon to greet parents and students as they’re going in or out. We sometimes teach classes and visit with students at lunchtime. It’s a very good ministry of the parish.
Father Dubois and I are also part of a larger group of priests who visit Camp Hill Prison. I wasn’t sure how I would react to being a prison chaplain to celebrate Mass and hear Confessions, but I love it. The prisoners there are so much desiring the mercy of God. They give me so much, and teach me so much about Christ in their lives. That’s another beautiful ministry of our parish.
What do enjoy in your free time?
I like to cook. I was in Italy, so I love Italian food, pastas. I like to go out to restaurants with friends.
I also like to read biographies or autobiographies on political figures or religious figures. I love “A Man for All Seasons,” about St. Thomas More. I love the history of the Second Vatican Council, what went on in the councils, biographies of the popes.
You have two brothers who are also priests. That’s unique in a family.
The vocation began in the home. Whenever my dad belonged to an organization at the parish, it didn’t matter whether my brothers and I were old enough to be part of it; we’d be able to go to the meeting. He’d say, “Just sit here and listen.” We went with him to Holy Name Society meetings, and just sat there and listened. He always involved us. It was interesting to think about dad’s role in bringing us into the life of the Church, allowing us to be absorbed into the ministry and into the parish.
Mom was always so patient and always witnessing to the love of Christ. She would sit down with us and quiz us for tests in school. Tim and I are twins, and we’d always sit down and goof, laugh and carry on, and she always got through, so that we learned. She showed the love of Christ as a mother.
My oldest brother, Dan, has a family. He makes sure that we’re in reality. I love him for that. He helps us realize that we have to get out of ourselves. My brother Dan and his family are very good models for Tim, Chris and I, in realizing that the priesthood is for others.
It is good to have two brothers who are priests who you can call to ask about certain areas or issues. We’re all together in it. It’s very beautiful to pray together and be together.
The Called: Father Kyle Sahd
Father Kyle Sahd
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