Staff Member: Father Jerry Strange
Father Jerry Strange
Growing up in Glasgow, Kentucky, school was always fun for me. I enjoyed learning and still do. But in the third grade, music captured my imagination. I began taking piano lessons and soon was very successful in my endeavors. I studied music through high school and into college, earning a Bachelor of Music from the University of Louisville and a Masters of Music from Butler University. After graduation, I earned a living as a musician. I was a staff accompanist for the Western Kentucky University music department and the house pianist for a French restaurant. I also performed recitals and chamber music for Artists in the Schools, played liturgical music at churches, and taught private piano lessons .
Through the years, I never left the Church, but it had become routine to me and I did not put much effort into my faith. After college, I reinvigorated my faith. I even became interested in the priesthood, applying to a religious order and going through the psychological tests required of every seminarian. Still, things just weren’t right; it didn’t seem like a good fit for me.
Along the way, I met and married a very beautiful, good woman. This brought the both of us to Bardstown, Kentucky. I decided to become a music teacher, and got my teaching license at Western Kentucky University. For the next eighteen years, I taught general music, vocal music, and band to children, grades pre-K through high school. We spent five years in Bardstown and celebrated the birth of my daughter, our only child. A transfer brought the three of us back to Glasgow, Kentucky. The next fourteen years were spent teaching in a nearby school, Caverna (Latin for cave) located about ten miles from Glasgow.
Life has its ups and downs, and a down period was bound to happen. Let us just say matrimony did not pan out well, and soon I found myself back in the bachelor mode. It was a difficult and challenging time. The Church annulment I received put a “nail in the coffin” in that relationship.
Finally, in prayer one night, I heard a voice. It was clear and distinct. It was as if someone were in the room with me. The voice simply said, “Be a priest.”
Surely not, I thought. I was happy and content and only nine years away from a full retirement in education, drawing a full pension and able to pursue other interests. But the voice hung in my thoughts.
At the age of 47, I petitioned the Diocese of Louisville to enter the seminary. The answer? No. I then petitioned the Diocese of Owensboro. The answer was again ”no.” I asked my pastor if I should I give up. He told me, ”The third time is a charm.” So, the Diocese of Nashville was petitioned. The answer was ”yes”!
I entered Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. School had always been fun and I enjoyed the academic life of the seminary. My vocation only suffered one moment of doubt in my first year, but it went away and finally, Bishop David Choby ordained me in 2011.
I love being a priest. I love being with people. But I also relish the quiet of prayer.
God has placed me with the community of Nativity to serve and love.