Deacon Andrew Clyne desires to be “an instrument of God’s mercy” as a priest
Jun 13, 2018
When Deacon Andrew Clyne is ordained a priest, he hopes to use his 14 years of theological education to help people apply the faith to their daily challenges and to act as an instrument of God’s mercy.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl will ordain Deacon Clyne as one of three new priests for the Archdiocese of Washington during a Mass on Saturday June 16 at 10 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Deacon Clyne was born in New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Orange, California. For two years, he and his family lived in Japan, and while living there they traveled to other nearby countries, which Deacon Clyne said began to ignite his curiosity and desire to learn.
Through learning about these different cultures, Deacon Clyne discovered an interest in history, which he said is “essentially the human story,” and he had a continual desire to understand the world and the people around him. This desire, he said, is one of the things that ultimately led him to study the faith in college and beyond.
“You look out into the world and you want to understand why it is the way it is,” he said.
It was in high school during his Confirmation preparation that Deacon Clyne began to turn that inquisitive attitude toward his faith, and wonder why it is that the Church he grew up in teaches what it does.
As he learned more about the faith, he began to wonder, “What am I supposed to do with my life in light of this?”
The thought of priesthood crossed his mind then, but he was not thinking about it seriously yet. He decided that he wanted to continue to study the faith in college, and went to The Catholic University of America to study theology.
On a retreat his sophomore year of college, he went to Confession for the first time in a long time, where he said he had “a profound experience of God’s mercy” that instilled in him “a desire to be an instrument of God’s mercy, as that priest had been to me.”
That made him start considering the priesthood more seriously, but he still was not sure where God was calling him to serve. He had a desire to teach, and at times thought about joining a religious order that specializes in teaching, like the Jesuits or the Dominicans, but ultimately put off the question a little bit more while he pursued graduate studies in religion and theology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and once again at The Catholic University of America.
While at Duke, he was taking classes alongside many students in the Divinity School who were planning to become ministers in various Christian churches. Being around those people who had “the intention of passing on the fruit of learning in actual communities” made him realize that he, too, had the desire to use his education to help people dealing with the challenges of daily life, which pointed him toward becoming a diocesan priest serving in a parish.
“If we really believe what we claim about God and His relationship with the world, we have to do a better job of showing how faith applies to human challenges,” he said, noting that faith is not just something that happens at church on Sunday, but it “has to flow into the other six days of the week.”
When he returned to Catholic University to begin his doctorate studies, he attended a diocesan discernment retreat and began talking to other people about his discernment process. After that retreat and a meeting with Father Carter Griffin, who was then the archdiocese’s vocations director, he said it became clear that the reasons he was hesitating were only in his own mind. At that time, he decided to take the plunge and enter seminary, “and there was a tremendous peace around that,” he said.
Deacon Clyne went on to study at the Saint John Paul II Seminary and Theological College in Washington, and served as a seminarian at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where he will celebrate his first Mass as a priest at 11:30 a.m. on June 17.
His parents, Richard and Stella Clyne, who now live in Oregon, and his sister, Meghan Kruger, will attend his ordination.
After being ordained a priest, Deacon Clyne said he is looking forward to “being an instrument for people to encounter the merciful love of God” through Confession, and also to having opportunities to teach the faith. While he has no expectations to formally teach, he said, “any time you are having a substantive conversation about the faith with someone, it is a teaching opportunity.”
Deacon Clyne said he is grateful for the fact that priesthood “affords you this privileged position in people’s lives,” in which they open up to him in a way they wouldn’t otherwise.
“I haven’t done anything to deserve that privilege. It is a gift that has been given,” he said.
While he is someone who likes to plan things out, he knows that in his life as a priest, he will often not know what is going to happen from day to day, and said he is “learning to find that exciting.”
“I hope to be a faithful witness for Christ in the world,” he said. “I hope I serve the people He entrusts to me well and faithfully.”
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