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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
April 12, 2002 Issue

Movie helps lead young man to priesthood

Dcn. John Girotti helps at parish as he awaits ordination

By Crystal Delwiche
Compass Correspondent

For Dcn. John Girotti, watching the movie, A Man for All Seasons, changed his life. It started a discernment journey that will lead on May 18 to his ordination as a priest at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay.

The movie tells the story of St. Thomas More, the former chancellor to King Henry VIII, whose conscience wouldn't allow him to recognize the king's divorce or his declaration that he was the head of the Church of England. Ultimately, More was imprisoned in the Tower of London and beheaded for treason.

"I watched the movie at my confirmation retreat for the first time and it struck me so much. It's a very powerful film," Dcn. Girotti said. "It's about standing up for the truth and about standing up for a man of principle. I'll never forget watching it and the impact it made on me."

Since his ordination as a deacon last Nov. 3, he's been preaching and assisting at weekend Masses at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Green Bay, while he finishes his last month at the seminary.

Dcn. Girotti grew up in Wauwatosa and attended Christ the King grade school and Marquette High School. He learned to play the violin at age four, then switched to cello in high school. He majored in music at Lawrence University in Appleton.

College was his first time away from home in a non-Catholic environment, with people of all and no faiths. It was both challenging and enriching, he said, as he saw what life was like for people who have no faith.

"I attended St. Mary Church in Appleton and all the while I was at college I discerned the call, I wrestled with it and it wouldn't go away no matter what I tried," Dcn. Girotti said. "I figured, 'well there must be something to this' so I started talking with some priests and eventually found myself at the diocese."

He started at Mount St. Mary Seminary at Emittsburg, Md., but decided to move closer to home and transferred to the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary, outside Chicago.

Dcn. Girotti says we need to pull together as a Catholic community and get back to how to love the church.

"If we truly love the church, we love Christ," he said. "As Catholics we believe that we possess the fullness of the truth of the church and that really loving the church is loving ourselves but also loving Jesus Christ; the Body of Christ is what Communion is all about. Especially today amidst all the difficulties, we need to stay together as Catholics and rejoice for what we've been given this church of 2,000 years, the church founded by Christ."

After his ordination, he hopes to expand catechetical programs, including apologetics -- the defense of Catholicism against those who preach lies about it or try to convert Catholics to another religion.

"I think it's important in telling people to love the church and to know the church and know their faith," Dcn. Girotti said. "Catholics do know their faith, but many are baptized but not converted. People have to know what to believe, because if they don't know what to believe it remains an emotion and if it's an emotion it'll sway with the wind."

He also plans to preach on the benefit of the sacrament of reconciliation and that going to confession is important.

"I rediscovered it myself while going to Lawrence University, and I found what it brings to life so I think it's very important that people rediscover the sacrament in this world, which is a difficult place to be a Christian."

Fr. Tom Farrell, pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul, says Dcn. Girotti has "been very helpful and has been very good to work with."

As the day of ordination approaches and Dcn. Girotti says he often reflects on how he has been blessed with his life at the seminary and how his dream is finally going to become reality.

"I can't wait to began. I'm excited but yet scared. It's the best time of my life," Dcn. Girotti said. "God has been very good to me as well as the diocese. I'm just so thankful for the past journey of 10 years and look forward to serving as a priest."

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