My name is Nick Radloff. I was born in 1985 to Ron and Mary Radloff. My childhood years were spent in Cascade and Charles City before eventually moving to Dyersville, which I consider my home. I’m the youngest of two with my sister living in Minnesota with her husband and daughter. In 2003, after graduating from Beckman High School in Dyersville, I went on to Saint Louis University to study Aerospace Engineering. After graduation in 2008, I commissioned in the Air Force and spent seven and a half years as a navigator specializing in Combat Search and Rescue. I began Pre-Theology studies at Saint Pius X Seminary in Dubuque in January of 2016.
What do you feel the role of the priest is?
In the simplest terms, the priest provides the sacraments to the people. However, there is so much more to the priesthood than that. In my own experience, the priests in my life have been there to help me through difficult times, help me celebrate accomplishments, and focus my life on Christ and His Church. Since leaving Iowa in 2003, I’ve been in a variety of situations and cities, none of which I could call home. The one constant has always been the Church and her priests. They provided a sense of “home” for me no matter where I found myself to be.
What advice would you give to a man considering the priesthood/seminary?
Don’t think of the seminary as a place for men certain of their vocation. It’s OK to be uncertain. That’s what seminary is for. A man doesn’t marry a woman without first dating her. Even then, it’s OK if dating doesn’t end in marriage. Think of seminary as “dating” the Church. This is your time to get to know the priesthood and figure out if it’s where you’re being called. Also, pray. Just as a man would constantly communicate with a woman he was dating, we need to constantly communicate with God.
Were you hesitant or nervous to take the first steps to enter the formation process?
I wasn’t nervous to enter formation, but it’s clear by the time it took me to get here that I was hesitant. I had thought about the priesthood for years before I did anything about it. It wasn’t until my final year of college that I decided to go on a vocations retreat. Even after that, I enjoyed my job and life in the military. It took another eight years from that initial retreat before I finally entered formation. My military commitment is the cause of some of that delay, but I kept finding reasons not to start formation. Eventually, I ran out of reasons to say “no.” Even after starting the application process, I encountered a hurdle or two that made me wonder if I was making the right decision. In confronting these hurdles, I imagined a life in which I didn’t go to seminary. In that hypothetical life, I saw myself living with more doubts and regrets than those I would encounter as a seminarian which made the transition easier. Seminary is a big step. Being hesitant or nervous is normal, and men shouldn’t be discouraged by it.
Is there a model priest for you in your life?
In both Charles City and Dyersville, I had the great fortune to have Msgr. Ed Petty as my pastor. He was a man of great joy that taught me how to love Christ and the Church. He was more than just my priest; he was my mentor. He was also a man of “balance.” He taught me that the Church can be serious and fun. It’s where we go when we encounter sadness and happiness. It’s modern and ancient. The priesthood defined who Msgr. Petty was, but more importantly it defined who he was to others.
Were you invited by others to consider the priesthood?
I don’t ever recall a specific person telling me, “You should consider the priesthood.” What I did have, however, was a group of great Catholic friends, both ordained and lay, who showed me how great a life of service to the Church could be and indirectly made me consider it. Through their example and friendship, they allowed me to come to the decision on my own and find my own path without external pressure in my discernment. I’m grateful for my friends that didn’t push me towards or away from the priesthood. This allowed me to make a decision that I know I wanted and not what others wanted for me. That’s not to say that men shouldn’t listen to those to invite them to consider the priesthood. If someone recognizes that you might make a good candidate, listen to them and give it some thought. Also, just because you’re not specifically invited to consider it, that doesn’t mean you’re not called.