Hello! My name is Jared Beltz and I am a first year seminarian for the Diocese of Joliet. Our Lady of Mercy is my home parish, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to come back home and share my faith journey with all of you at Mass this weekend.
I was born into a Catholic family, and we attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, participated in religious education, and were active at the parish. I served in many ministries at Our Lady of Mercy, ranging from altar serving and singing in the choir as a kid, to cantoring and serving as a Eucharistic Minister as an adult. Through these ministries, I gained perspective into the life of a priest, and formed personal relationships with the priests at OLM.
As I progressed through college, I began to feel more comfortable telling others about my faith in God, and found myself spending more time in prayer at church, helping at Vacation Bible School, and going on Mission Trips with OLM. I had been trying to decide what I wanted to do after college, and the thoughts of priesthood and serving the Church in this way were always in my mind. Multiple people started asking me some variation of “Have you ever considered the priesthood?” or “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?” These encounters, along with my persistent thoughts, made me begin to seriously discern the priesthood. In addition, I felt that God was trying to speak to me last year as I listened to the readings on Holy Thursday when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and made the point of serving others before himself (John 13:1-15). I believe this was God working through the people in my life, as well as through his Word.
Since deciding to take the step to enter into seminary formation, I have had many graces come into my life. I am currently in the midst of a “Spirituality Year”, a stage in formation that allows men like me to dive deeper into our Catholic faith. I have been given the opportunity to grow in my faith through reading the Bible and Catechism in a year. I have also grown in service through ministering in impoverished neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. I am so blessed to have begun this journey to the priesthood. Please know that I keep all of you in my prayers, and I ask for your prayers as I continue my seminary formation.