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Fr. Rooney
Rev. Patrick Rooney, O.P. (’15) preaches at his high school alma mater, Mother of Divine Grace.

Less than one year after his ordination, Rev. Patrick Rooney, O.P. (’15), now serves as the parochial vicar of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco — and enjoys his priesthood immensely.

It was while a sophomore at Thomas Aquinas College that young Patrick first became aware of his vocation to the priesthood, after 20 years of thinking his life lay elsewhere. This revelation came about through several small signposts, the first being a copy of the work Divine Intimacy, which he took from a book giveaway. “I picked it up, and I started reading it, and I could not put it down,” he says. “That book changed my whole attitude toward spirituality. ... I started to grow in my life of prayer.” 

Around the same time, he was working as a teacher for the Mother of Divine Grace distance-learning program, founded by alumna Laura (Steichen ’75) Berquist. “Every once in a while, while teaching, I caught myself giving what felt like a five-minute homily, where I didn’t just want the kids to know about the Faith, but to really love it,” he recalls. 

But the fruition of these seeds came about when he saw a young priest praying in the Chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. He thought to himself, “This man truly believes, and I could see myself doing that.” Patrick realized then that he was called to the priesthood. 

Because he deeply loved philosophy, Patrick looked to the Dominicans to pursue his vocation, culminating in his ordination last fall. He also received his first assignment, which was to St. Dominic’s, where he serves under the leadership of a fellow TAC alumnus, Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (‘99). “My job is like being the pastor’s sidekick,” he says. “It involves doing a lot of the priestly work, but I’m not the one making big decisions for the parish.” 

Among the most rewarding aspects of his ministry, he finds, is anointing the sick. “Anointings can be incredibly powerful, especially when someone is conscious and they love the Lord,” he says, “When those two things are true, that is an incredibly powerful moment. That’s a moment when you see words of faith coming from the person’s mouth. The small talk which usually permeates our conversations is cut away, and in its place is a pure focus on God.”

As a member of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Rooney also takes joy in continuing the work he began at Mother of Divine Grace by preaching regularly. The Mass, he observes, offers an opportunity to grow closer to God and to “exit the world of time” — a process he hopes to aid with carefully chosen words that challenge their listener to grow closer to Our Lord.

His decision to join the Dominicans has proved a fruitful one, and his vocation has thus far yielded its promised sense of fulfillment and joy.