By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Father Jonathan Erdman was attracted to the priesthood as a young boy, pretending to celebrate Mass for his stuffed toys.
He has fulfilled that desire twice-over — first as a priest in the Episcopal Church and now as a priest in the Catholic Church.
Father Erdman was ordained June 29 as a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham. The cathedral, located in Houston, Texas, is the ordinariate’s principal church.
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a special diocese-like entity created in 2012 by the Vatican for former Anglican individuals, communities and clergy joining the Catholic Church.
Father Erdman said he’d felt a tug toward the Catholic Church for so long that finally coming into full communion with the church has given him a “sense of freedom and release.”
Father Erdman — whose father and brother are Episcopal priests — served for 12 years as an Episcopal priest, six of those years as pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Louisville.
As a Catholic priest, he leads the community of Our Lady and St. John, a newly formed faith community of former Anglicans. He will celebrate Mass for the community — and other Catholics who wish to attend — at St. Martin of Tours Church, 639 S. Shelby St., on Sundays at 4 p.m.
Father Erdman was born in Mahanoy Township, Pa., — the same area where Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz is from.
Father Erdman was raised in Rolla, Mo., where he attended the University of Missouri-Rolla and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
He attended Yale University’s Divinity School, where he earned a master’s degree in divinity in 2004 — the same year he was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.
It’s difficult, he said, to pinpoint a time when he first felt called “to come into communion with the Catholic Church.” That desire, however, was in the back of his mind for some time. It took him a while to answer, always finding a way to “distract” himself, he said.
Father Erdman said in an interview July 3 that often when one hears God calling, the response is to come up with an excuse.
“Moses said he didn’t have the ability to speak, Jeremiah claimed he was too young, and even Peter asked Jesus to depart because he felt unworthy,” said Father Erdman.
He said he told himself that he needed to grow where he was planted and that he had work to do where he was. Yet, he said, he longed for a “faith rooted in tradition and reason.”
He longed for “true unity with the Church Christ established and unity with the successor of the apostles.”
“The Catholic Church is deeply rooted in tradition, yet very much alive,” he said.
In January of 2016, he decided to answer the calling he felt to the Catholic Church and left the Episcopal Church.
In the summer of 2016, he and his family were received into the Catholic Church and in August, he enrolled at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology for formation in the priesthood of the Catholic Church.
Discerning the call to the Catholic Church “was challenging,” he said. “It was a time of diligent prayer and study.”
But the support he received from his parents — Father Daniel Erdman and Susan Erdman — made it easier, he said.
“They feel like that’s how I feel called to follow Jesus,” he said.
Father Erdman said much of what he experienced in the Anglican faith — attachment to the sacraments, a love of Scripture and the love of an incarnated faith — has come with him on this new faith journey into the Catholic Church.
“I found them fulfilled in the Catholic faith,” he said.
Father Erdman celebrated his first Mass as a Catholic priest on July 2 at St. Martin of Tours Church for members of Our Lady and St. John — a newly formed Catholic community.
The community is composed of individuals who came to the Catholic faith from the Anglican faith tradition.
Father Erdman will celebrate Mass for the community every Sunday at St. Martin of Tours at 4 p.m. He will also celebrate Mass for St. Martin on occasions when he’s asked to do so, he said.
Catholics who are not members of Our Lady and St. John may attend Mass with the community. The liturgy fulfills the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays. Attending Mass with the community on a holy day of obligation fulfills that requirement as well.
Father Erdman said that being a priest and family man is a challenge. It’s a “difficult balance,” he said, one he manages with prayer and the help of his wife Andrea.
Andrea Erdman, a former social worker, stays home with their four children — Sarah, 9, Joseph, 7, and twins Gabriel and Naomi, 4.
Father Erdman said he evaluates the needs of each day and he’s “intentional” with his time. Doing this, he said, helps him to be successful at meeting the needs of his family and that of his faith community.
“There are times when the family has to make sacrifices, but all of us support each other,” said Father Erdman, adding that he’s looking forward to raising his children in the Catholic faith.