Our Saint Michael family is so excited to welcome Fr. John Paul Tomassi as our new parochial vicar this summer!
As Fr. John Paul reflects on his ordination — which took place on June 3 — he recalls two especially memorable moments that day.
“First — and I don’t just say this because I’m going to be at Saint Michael — I was really moved by the opportunity to receive the laying on of hands and to exchange peace with Fr. Jim,” he says. “Second, there was a pause at the time to be vested as a priest, and I had a chance to look at my family and friends, letting the new reality sink in for a minute.”
The fourth of five kids in a devout Catholic Irish-Italian family, Fr. John Paul grew up in the Portland area. His family attended church in that area until moving to Camas, Wash., where they became parishioners at Holy Redeemer in Vancouver, Wash.
“Most of grade school, I was homeschooled and attended group classes at a school for homeschool families,” Fr. John Paul says. “I also had a couple years at different Catholic schools before going to the local public high school in Camas and then completed my last two years of high school at Seton Catholic, Vancouver.”
The call to the priesthood came to Fr. John Paul at a very young age, although he doesn’t recall exactly when it was. Being raised in the Catholic faith, he recognized there was an openness to the idea of a vocation to the priesthood.
“I recall having a lot of respect for priests as a child, and I felt very loved by the priests that I met,” he says. “So I would think, as kids often think about various professions, ‘I want to be a priest when I grow up.’ But as this deepened, I found that at times I didn’t want this, but I thought God might still want it for me. Another childhood dream I had was to be a fighter pilot, but as I entered high school, this mostly faded to the background.”
In the summers between each year of high school, Fr. John Paul attended Quo Vadis Days, a discernment camp for teenage boys considering the priesthood. This kept the idea of priesthood in his mind and heart.
“I felt peace when considering that God really could be inviting me to enter seminary and pursue the priesthood, and I knew that few men my age had even had the chance to consider this possibility,” he says. “I noticed that a priest can bring people true joy through the gift of the Eucharist, and I wanted to be a part of that. So I applied to seminary for the Archdiocese of Seattle in my last year of high school.”
After a few years of seminary studies, Fr. John Paul found himself committing to the vocation wholeheartedly. He spent 10 years in priestly formation, eight of which were dedicated to academic study.
“I have never really enjoyed school, and while I’m capable of learning, I have always struggled to manage the demands of academic work,” he says. “However, the things I got to learn in seminary, especially theology, were extremely helpful for me, and I enjoyed that. But seminary isn’t just about studying — it’s a fraternity of men who pray and live together, and a system of support built precisely to help a man become holier and happier.”
Beyond his priestly duties and responsibilities, Fr. John Paul is passionate about choral music and is a coffee connoisseur, preparing craft coffee from local roasters. He also enjoys the occasional hike or kayak excursion. In addition, he speaks Spanish and, through it, can offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“I am very much looking forward to serving at Saint Michael, especially celebrating Mass and the other sacraments with the community, working with the school community, and getting to know the many wonderful families that are a part of the parish,” he says.