Rev. Mr. Connor Orabutt to be Ordained To Diocesan Priesthood on June 3
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
June 1, 2023
ROCKFORD—Connor Orabutt grew up in Carpentersville and Algonquin, always a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary Parish. 
He attributes “a great deal of human and spiritual growth” in his high school years to the St. Margaret Mary youth ministry program. 
“It is then that my relationship with Jesus really began to grow ...,” he says. 
He is a Marian Central Catholic High School, Woodstock, graduate.
Connor also is a triplet, born just before his brother and sister, Ryan and Emily, to their parents, Rick and Peggy. 
“As one could imagine, the three of us did everything together,” he says. “Though our paths have now gone in different directions, my siblings and I are doing one last thing at the same time. This summer, we are all entering our vocations! Both Ryan and Emily are celebrating their marriages this summer. Please pray for them and their (future spouses), and most especially my parents!
“I can’t be more grateful for my parents and my siblings. They have taught me so much. Most importantly, all of them have been icons for me of God’s unconditional love and fidelity to me. 
“Yes, all of them have supported me from day one of my discernment which is an incredible gift I know every man does not have. But that support has been there and never questioned since day one of my life.”
Called to the priesthood
Connor’s call to the priesthood began one summer night after his freshman year in high school. He was imagining his future life with a dream job and wife and kids, and then, he says, “an odd thought (came) to mind: ‘Connor, you could be a priest.’ ... Immediately, only by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, was I able to recognize that this thought originated not with me, but with God. ...
“I was aware that if God was calling me to do something with my life it was going to make me the happiest. Within a matter of moments from receiving this revelation I had logically concluded that I was going to be a priest. How could I not?
“Then, of course, came doubts and fears — thoughts of being not good enough, not holy enough, still sins, what about the family I desire; I’ll be alone as a priest. And so on.”
The next day he “did what my 15-year-old self thought was best,” he says. He asked his friends what they thought. 
“Now that you mention it, we can totally see you being a priest!” was their response. 
When he asked his parents, they responded with, “Connor, we will support you in whatever you think is God’s will for your life.”
“Not sure how but it only took those two ‘failed’ attempts to conclude that this was only going to be resolved through prayer,” Connor says. 
So almost every Wednesday he went to adoration and prayed a rosary for his vocation, adding a prayer to the Blessed Mother: “Mary, I know this is the Lord’s will for my life, but I am not in a place to accept it. So, please bring me there.”
A couple of months went by, and finally he could notice something slowly changing. 
In his sophomore year, Connor, his brother and a friend “regularly found ourselves taking advantage of the free candy” in Father Thomas Doyle’s Marian Central office. 
“Father would also ask us about our classes, how the weekend was, and we asked him questions surrounding the faith,” he says. “By no means right away, but eventually I realized that I hadn’t left (his) office without having have laughed and been lifted in spirit.”
Called to joy
“The possibility became quite real for me,” he says, “that priests can live a joyful life. Father Doyle was an example for me of a priest who was happy to be a priest and joyful in the assignment he was given. 
Why couldn’t it be the same for me?”
The idea was reinforced as he got to know two seminarians assigned to St. Margaret Mary Parish. 
“We got to know them, hear a little about their stories, and they’d share what they were learning in seminary. These young men weren’t even priests and to me they seemed to be already living their best lives. My thought to myself became, ‘if they are satisfied, not even as priests yet, then why not for me?’ ”
With such ongoing experiences that year, Connor’s fears were “vanishing, the struggles with sin were disappearing (and) desires were taking their place! There was excitement around celebrating Mass, anticipation hearing confessions, a longing to be a mediator between God and His people. 
“Mary’s intercession was having more effect than just in external affairs. She was also bringing about change in my heart. By the end of my sophomore year of high school I knew I was going to apply for seminary come senior year.”
Senior year came, and all the doubts and fears returned. 
Then, he says, “assisting with a high school retreat I found myself once again in adoration. I had a prayer booklet I hadn’t opened in a while, and I opened it up. In the pages was a card that read ‘You would make a great priest.’ 
“All of a sudden this wave of peace rushed over me. I looked at Jesus and all I could say is ‘You’re right. You’re right.’ All the desires of wanting to be a priest calmly returned, and I was comfortably placed back on track to enter seminary the next fall.
“I entered seminary at St. John Vianney in St. Paul, Minnesota, the following year and haven’t looked back! ... My last four years of studies were at Mundelein seminary in Mundelein.
“Thank you to all those who have been praying for me throughout the years, especially to those I have never met,” he says. “All of you are an icon of God’s generous love. I know so many graces have come to me through your prayers and have assisted me in my time of formation. May we continue to place one another in Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart!”
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