Martin Coolidge

Biography

Hello, I’m Martin Coolidge. I was born on November 14, 1991 in Ft. Wayne, IN. My parents are Gregory and Sallie Coolidge, and I have an older brother, Andrew, and a younger brother, Michael. When I was 14, we moved to Elyria, OH with my dad’s job. I came to Iowa in 2010 when I started school at Iowa State University. I graduated from ISU in 2014 with a B.S. in Meteorology. Until now, I lived in Ames for 5 years and consider St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and Student Center my home parish, even though my family still lives in Ohio. This is my first year (Pre-Theology I) at St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque. I am extremely grateful to have begun seminary to be formed closer to Christ and to continue my discernment! I am also very happy to be an “adopted” Iowan and Archdiocese of Dubuquer! Thank you for your support and prayers.

 

Where and when did your sense of call develop?

 My call began during my time at ISU. During my junior year, I started taking Holy Communion to the sick and hospitalized as part of a St. Thomas Aquinas ministry team. People I ministered to would ask me, “Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?” or they would say, “You would make a good priest.” At that time, I didn’t think anything of it or want to be a priest. I would always reply, “No, not me!” But bringing Christ to these people gave me great joy, and as I reflect back I now see this was part of God’s plan for me to become opened to hearing his call through other people. It wasn’t until last winter that I strongly encountered God personally calling me to the priesthood. I had come to a point where I did not know what to do with my life. My spiritual life deepened as I began to pray every day for God to show me what to do. He answered my prayer on January 18, during the Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames. Before receiving Communion, I prayed the words of Samuel from the first reading (1 Samuel 3:1-10), “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” After receiving the Eucharist and in the quiet prayer that followed, I felt an extraordinary sense of peace consume me and thoughts of the priesthood and becoming a priest flooded my mind! It was powerful experience that told me it was of the Lord and that he was asking me to become his priest. I was not afraid of the thought of living my vocation as a priest, and I did not want to suppress it – I had come to a point in my life where I finally desired what God desired for me and trusted in his will. Ever since that moment, that inner peace has remained with me as I continue my discernment. I recognize it as a great gift from God to aid me in my formation.

 

What do you feel the role of the priest is?

The role of the priest is to be Christ for others. A priest must imitate Christ in everything they do to bring people and parish communities to a strong relationship with Jesus, especially in the celebrating the Eucharist and preaching. He must be a merciful, loving leader, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that people may know God’s love and desire to live out this love in the life of the Catholic Church. A priest must recognize that he is a sinner too, and that he is called to serve God by living a holy, humble life, willing to make personal sacrifices to care for all the people and needs of his parish.

 

What advice would you give to a man considering the priesthood/seminary?

Prioritize personal pray with God in your daily life. The more you pray the more you “talk” to God and you will be able to hear his voice over all the loud distractions of the world. Receive the Eucharist frequently. If possible every day because there is no greater way to know if God is calling you to the priesthood than to let him transform you through his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Read and pray the Bible. God’s word is alive today and he will speak to you through the Scriptures. Prayer, receiving the Eucharist, and reading the Word of God were the three fundamental things that deepened my personal relationship with God to be opened to his will, embrace it, act on it, and continue to do so now.

 

Is there a model priest for you in your life?

 Fr. Jon Seda and Fr. Richmond Dzekoe are both model priests for my life. Fr. Jon was and still is the pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames while I was at ISU. He is a strong leader that is both bold and caring. He is not afraid to preach or speak the truth even when it is hard to hear, but he is down to earth, sincere, and loves just being with the people of his parish. Fr. Richmond was the associate pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas while I was at ISU, but has since moved on to campus ministry at Miami University in Ohio. He radiates joy and it is infectious. People see how much he loves God and being a priest and are inspired to praise God too. He is a compassionate, merciful priest. He would never turn anyone away from confession before Mass even if it meant the Mass started late or he had to spend time after Mass to hear more confessions. Both priests taught me to be genuine and welcoming.

 

What motivated your interest in the priesthood?

My interest in the priesthood was motivated by bringing the Eucharist to the sick and hospitalized. I saw how important it was for them to receive Christ. The Eucharist comforted and strengthened them in their time of need. I also saw how people need a physical person to be Christ for them when they are struggling. This motivated me to want to be this figure of Christ as a priest. This past summer I worked on a farm. It was my first experience of rural Iowa, country life, and farm labor (I have been a suburbanite all my life!). It opened my eyes to the shortage of priests to serve these communities. Having a resident parish priest all my life was something I was used too, but where I worked and in many places around the Archdiocese there are clusters of parishes with only one priest. I am grateful for these priests and the people of these communities for maintaining a strong faith. My experience motivated me to be open to help serve this need as a priest in small, rural communities.