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Ordination to the priesthood: Joseph Detwiler

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski ordained Joseph Detwiler on May 29 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Joseph Detwiler

Age: 29

Family: Parents, Mike and Mary; siblings Elizabeth, Patricia, Cecilia, Tom, John and Kevin

Home Parish: Queen of All Saints in Oakville

Education: Queen of All Saints School; De Smet Jesuit High School; St. Louis Community College-Meramec; Cardinal Glennon College; Kenrick School of Theology

The call: Faith was always important in Father Detwiler’s life. As a student at De Smet Jesuit High School, he became involved in youth ministry. He attended a discernment retreat at the seminary, but not really with the priesthood on his mind. The Lord encountered him in a profound way that weekend, though, and the idea of the priesthood started to grow within.

Father Detwiler planned to enter the college seminary right after high school, but all of that changed when he and his sister, Cecilia, were in a car accident on July 4, 2010. Both had critical injuries, and it was doubtful they would both survive. Father Detwiler sustained a severe brain injury and was unresponsive for more than two months. “On day 74, when a priest was staying in my room praying (the) Liturgy of the Hours, I woke up and spoke, miraculously, six hours after my parents were told I may never talk again,” he said.

Through the ordeal, Father Detwiler had the “most profound experience of God’s love for me. From my family who gave me so much support, to all of the nurses and therapists who served me, when in reality there was little to no hope of me ever having much brain function ever again. He also taught me many lessons in the long and grueling hours of therapy where I had to learn how to walk again and other tasks.” After graduation, he spent a year at community college while he recovered, entering the college seminary a year later.

“The Lord has been so abundantly generous to me throughout my life, and He is continuing to do so in calling me to be one of His priests,” he said. “Providentially, this experience that should have ended with my death … is something that God willing will enrich my priesthood and enable me to walk with people in a way that I am called to be with people.”

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