Meet Our New Priests

Father Jay Paul Horning

Diocese: Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Branch of Service: Army
Current Rank: First Lieutenant
University/ Seminary Attended: 
University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD
High School Attended: Clay High School, South Bend, Indiana

When was the first time you thought you might have a vocation to the priesthood?

I am a recent convert to Catholicism (April 2010), growing up with no prior faith background. It was a year and a half after being baptized, September 2011 that I first felt a call to the priesthood.

Who or what events influenced or inspired you in your discernment journey?

It was through my experiences at the University of Saint Francis that I became open to the idea of Catholicism and through retreat experiences that opened my heart and mind to Christianity as a whole. After my baptism, confirmation, and first communion it was my pastor who further inspired me to contemplate the call to the priesthood.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

One may be that I am a convert or that I entered seminary to discern a call to the priesthood after being Catholic for two years. I have no prior experience to the military and yet feel called to be a military chaplain. Friends from high school would be surprised that I’m Catholic. I’m sure there are other things that would surprise people as they grew to know me.

What is your favorite scripture passage, why?

My favorite passage is Psalm 37: 23-24. There are many different translations of this but my preferred translation is, “Those whose steps are guided by the Lord; whose way God approves, May stumble, but they will never fall, for the Lord holds their hand” (NAB). This is my favorite passage because it is a reminder that as long as I keep my focus on the Lord, trust in Him, and believe that He guides my steps, then I need not worry of destruction of myself. I may fall; I will undoubtedly fail at times, however God will be continually holding my hand. That is an encouragement to rise again, to carry on, and to strive for what God is asking of me.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ personally?

Through a retreat in college called Koinonia, which is a Greek word that means community, I have my first experience with Adoration. After a moment of ignorance, in which I refused to believe/accept that the Blessed Sacrament was truly Jesus Christ’s body, I put myself before the Lord. After hours of being there I felt a hand on my shoulder, believing it to be someone else I turned around to find out who the person was, only to realize that no one was there. That was when I first truly believed and acknowledged that God existed.

What were some of the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and share your relationship with Christ and His Church?

One of those experiences is listed above with my experience in adoration. Throughout the rest of college I was involved with our Campus Ministry and through programs such as; exalts (Praise and Worship Music with Adoration), Logos (small group bible studies), sidewalk chalk passages (writing scripture passages on the sidewalk for students as they go to and from class) I began to develop my love for Christ and His Church. During my senior year I went through R.C.I.A. at a local parish and soon before being baptized was hired as the Youth Director for their High School Ministry program. That also helped me to develop my relationship more with Christ. An unexpected trip to World Youth Day in 2011 was the capstone to the discernment process.

What was your professional and/or academic and/ or military background before applying to be a seminarian applicant?

My professional background was that of a High School Youth Director. I am a college graduate and was taking graduate courses in Theology at the time of my discernment. My military background is non-existent. The only family that I have that has been in the military was my grandfather who passed away when I was 12.

Who are your heroes or people you significantly admire?

I admire my mother for what she has gone through, becoming a widow at the age of 44. My parish priest Fr. James Shafer, who I have developed a very good friendship with. Martyrs of the faith are heroes and people I admired.

Father Michael Metz

Branch of Service: Army
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
University/ Seminary Attended: 
Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee
High School Attended: High School Attended: Pinecrest Academy, Cumming, Georgia

When was the first time you thought you might have a vocation to the priesthood?

I grew up in a very open family when considering a vocation to a religious order so the possibility of the priesthood was a thought that I have always had.

Who or what events influenced or inspired you in your discernment journey?

The high school community I grew up in was always a strong influence on my decision. I had a lot of exposure to amazing priests that always reinforced the importance and need for holy priests in the Church.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am the second oldest child in a family of eleven. There are 8 Metz boys and 3 Metz girls.

What is your favorite scripture passage, why?

The Parable of the Sower – Mark 4: 3-20. I remember studying this passage at Airborne school in Ft. Benning and it having a huge impact on me. This passage shows the different reactions people have to the Word of God, everyone’s reaction is different. This parable made me look inside myself and learn a little bit of how I react and ways that I can improve myself.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ personally?

Fortunately for me I was raised in a very Catholic household so Christ was always a part of my life. But I really began to know Him in a personal way when I took a trip to World Youth Day in Germany when I was a freshman in high school. That trip had a large impact on my relationship with Jesus Christ.

What were some of the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and share your relationship with Christ and His Church?

The biggest event to date that has happened in my faith occurred last summer while I was doing ROTC training as a junior in college. In the solitude of Ft. Lewis and the silence of the woods I heard the very real and personal call from Christ to become a Catholic priest and military chaplain.

What was your professional and/or academic and/ or military background before applying to be a seminarian applicant?

I was born in San Diego, CA. My father was a Navy F-14 pilot and was stationed at Miramar, after his career ended our family moved to GA where I spent my middle, elementary and high school careers. I attended an all boys high school and enjoyed playing sports all four years. I went on to Memphis TN where I attended Christian Brothers University, I played basketball and was enrolled in the Army ROTC program through the University of Memphis. I graduated with a B.S. in Business Management and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Who are your heroes or people you significantly admire?

A hero to me is my father and my mother. Their selfish mindset and battle for holiness have been a constant example for me throughout my life. They literally devote every waking second to trying to get their children closer to holiness. They have dedicated their lives completely for others. I admire their love for others and their persistence to make everyone around them better people in any way possible. I am lucky to have these great heroes for parents, I am truly blessed.

Father Benjamin Pitre

Branch of Service: Navy
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
University/ Seminary Attended: 
Pontifical North American College
High School Attended: Opelousas Catholic School

Who or what events influenced or inspired you in your discernment journey?

Our Immaculate Mother Mary

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I have been in the Navy.

What is your favorite scripture passage, why?

Matthew 11:28-30  I have learned that without the yoke of Jesus, I am nothing.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ personally?

I was introduced to Our Lady of Fatima, which inspired me to make the faith of my parents my own faith.  Since then, Mary’s beauty has continually kept me close to Jesus.

What were some of the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and share your relationship with Christ and His Church?

Entering the seminary.  Performing hospital/nursing home/hospice ministry.

What was your professional and/or academic and/ or military background before applying to be a seminarian applicant?

I was 5 years active duty Navy – Submarine Officer (LT)

Who are your heroes or people you significantly admire?

John Paul the Great, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Therese, my Pastor