Two to Be Ordained to the Priesthood June 1
May 23, 2024
ROCKFORD—Jeffrey Filipski and Grant Colborn are all set to be ordained to the priesthood on June 1. They spoke with The Observer a few weeks beforehand to share a bit about themselves.
 
Rev. Mr. Grant Colborn
 
Transitional Deacon Grant Colborn was born and raised in Pecatonica, attending school there and participating in band, choir and long-distance running, which he says continued in college and was very important to him. 
 
He also sang with the well-known boys’ choir, Kantorei, in Rockford. On its Facebook page, the organization introduces itself with: “To provide a quality musical education, while instilling in each member the rewards of self-discipline, responsibility, and dedication towards common goals.” Deacon Colborn calls his Kantorei experience “very formative for me,” adding that the “choir director was 
very influential.”
 
But an even greater influence, he says, was his grandfather who was “my primary role model, a strong model of the Catholic faith … he was really the person who really inspired me to take my faith seriously.”
 
Although Deacon Colborn of course knew about the priesthood, he said he never thought about the priesthood “as a potential career, so to speak,” in middle or high school. Even so, at a young age, he says he was aware that at Mass “something unique and special was going on; I did have a very strong devotion to the Eucharist.”
 
Then came his freshmen year at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. In the second semester, he recalls that “the daily Mass schedule fit into my class, my running and my practices schedules.” Going to daily Mass, he says, “sparked this thought in my mind. I would see the chaplain and, yeah, that (was) something I could potentially see myself doing someday.”
 
He kept that thought to himself until “finally I reached a point where I knew I had to tell someone about these thoughts,” so one day he headed down to the chaplain’s office. Father Chuck Adam wasn’t in, but he had a stack of booklets outside his office, including one titled, “So You’re Thinking About Becoming a Catholic Priest.”
 
“I figured I might as well take a booklet,” Deacon Colborn says, describing how he took the booklet into the chapel and sat before the Blessed Sacrament. At the end of the booklet was a short prayer giving God permission to work. “I said the prayer and stood up and standing outside (the chapel) was Father Chuck.”
 
The priest told the young man that he had noticed he’d been coming to daily Mass. Then he invited him to dinner that Thursday for men who are thinking about priesthood. Father Chuck told him he’d meet other priests, the diocesan vocation director, and the bishop at the event.
 
“I had a deer-in-the-headlights look,” Deacon Colborn says. “I literally had just (finished) the prayer. It all happened in a matter of minutes.” Returning home, he called his mom, all flustered, and told her what had happened.
 
At the Thursday night dinner, he says, “I remember how happy the priests were. They seemed to exude this sense of joy. That’s what I remember. That, for me, was the turning point in the discernment process, and I would carry that moment with me through the rest of my time in college.”
 
It felt natural for him, he says, to initially apply with the Diocese of Davenport; its chancery is across the street from St. Ambrose University. He was with that diocese for two years. 
 
Then it was “a matter of family and the way the Lord made it clear through my grandfather a pattern (that led) up to that decision with my spiritual director” to transfer.
 
“The seeds of my vocation had been planted in the Diocese of Rockford,” Deacon Colborn says. “It was where the roots of my vocation were (and) that was the nucleus for that decision.”
 
While with the Davenport Diocese he began his priesthood studies at St. Mary-of-the-Lake Seminary in Mundelein; that location continued after he transitioned to the Diocese of Rockford. His hope is to “remain true to myself and give the people of God the knowledge I have learned in my seven years of seminary,” he says. He is most looking forward to celebrating the sacraments, he adds.
 
Even as a deacon, he says he enjoyed preaching, but a highlight was imparting the sacrament of baptism, which “confers real grace, and that’s where it all happens.
 
“Mass and confessions are what I’m looking forward to the most.”
 
Rev. Mr. Jeffrey Filipski
 
Transitional Deacon Jeffrey Filipski hails from St. Charles, attended St. Patrick Parish, and is one of six children. He notes that, “My journey towards seminary and the priesthood has been a long one — 20 years to be exact.”
 
He says that he was first asked about being a priest when he was eight years old. That took place at the Sacred Heart Shrine when a priest there told his mother “your son has an anointing for the priesthood.” As a result, his parents weren’t surprised by his eventual vocation, he says, just that it took him so long.
 
God, he says, was persistent, but he was “really resistant.” When priests would ask him to consider the priesthood, he says, “I thought, ‘Well, that’s your job to say that.’”
 
Deacon Filipski is a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport with degrees in marketing and finance. After graduating, he spent seven years in the marketing field doing analytics and consulting for consumer goods companies. He has, he says, “a spirit of adventure” and likes to try new things, from food to sports and travel — he enjoyed, for example, studying in Spain and Rome and working at an orphanage in El Salvador. 
 
All those interests kept him busy. He “loved business,” he says, “but (eventually) felt really restless. I kept plugging away until the Lord made me very restless for Him.”
 
He calls it a “cool experience” when he “got to the point where I exhausted all these opportunities, and the Lord just shut the doors. I got angry (and asked God) ‘What do you want from me?’” The answer, he realized, was that God wanted everything from him.
 
“For the first time in my life,” Deacon Filipski recalls, “I could say ‘Thy will be done,’ (and) I truly meant it.”
 
At that point he didn’t think God meant the priesthood, and says, “I just thought He wanted me to be detached.” But he did “pick back up the discernment” process “much more seriously,” and notes that “(God) led me to the point where He made it very clear.”
 
All that struggle gives Deacon Filipski perspective and a sense of gratitude.
 
“The Lord desires our happiness,” he says. “Often we search for that in our own way.” He calls his years of work a “huge blessing,” but notes that there was “just always the hunger for more. We were made for more.”
 
In all vocations, which “are meant for ‘the other,’” he says, “unless we have that integration in mind where everything is oriented toward God, (we’ll) always come up short.”
 
In his vocation and ordination, he says he hopes “in that union that the Lord is calling me to, that I (will) be transfigured … so I can serve His people with the same love and fervor that He has in pursuing us, to truly be that visible sign and witness of the Lord’s love and fidelity toward us.”
 
He is grateful, he says, for people who support vocations and for the Church, and he asks for continuing prayers “that I might be a good and holy priest that loves with the heart of the Father. … When I (lie) down on that cathedral floor (during the ordination rite), it’s for them …
“My heart swells with joy at the great privilege, at the invitation to serve His body … 
the people.”
 
 
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