FORTY YEARS A PRIEST
Father Philip DeVolder celebrated his 40th year as a priest June 14. And today, as he has done throughout his four-decade vocation, he allows the peace of God to permeate his daily life and encourages the importance of waiting for such peace in decision-making.
“The difficulty is to not get ahead of God … be open to the unexpected and don’t do anything until you have a sense of peace,” he said. It’s a principle that has guided his life.
God will communicate to us in His time, Father DeVolder reminds others. Disciples of Christ who are trying to discern their vocations must embrace this call to patiently listen.
Father DeVolder attended Indiana University South Bend with the intention of becoming a Spanish teacher. The school is not far from his home in Mishawaka and his home parish, St. Bavo. After one year in college, however, he realized he was being called elsewhere. He changed course from education to the working world, obtaining a job in a factory; it was in this work that he began to more clearly hear a call to the priesthood.
“My vocation started with holy hours,” Father DeVolder recalled. Guided by time in adoration as well as by the wisdom of a priest with exceptional homilies, he intentionally prayed for peace in his call. Six months later, the peace he had been praying for manifested in his heart. He moved forward with formation and began attending St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati in 1973.
Father DeVolder completed his formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In 1980, he received his degree and the sacrament of holy orders.
While reflecting on his path to the priesthood, Father DeVolder marveled that “I originally felt that I was unworthy. Now I know that even more.” His journey toward service to the Church convinced him of the reality of the “incredible worthiness” of Christ.
He finds his vocation to be one of humble and passionate support for the flock he shepherds, noting that “lay people are the ones who have to save the Church. The priest is the one who helps them, in Word and sacrament.”
Father DeVolder has seen a wide expanse of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. His first assignment brought him to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Decatur. Three years later, he was assigned to St. Joseph Parish, Fort Wayne, then to St. Stanislaus Kostka in New Carlisle. In 1988, he moved into the central area of the diocese and ministered at Sacred Heart Parish, Warsaw, before returning to St. Mary of the Assumption in 1995. His next assignment, almost 11 years later, took him to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elkhart; he went on to an assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which took him back to Warsaw.
In 2010, he began to serve at Sacred Heart once more. He moved to residency at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne nine years later. The same year, Father DeVolder was appointed parochial vicar of SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Huntington. Yet, this would not be his last change of parish.
After a battle with cancer was declared in remission, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades assigned Father DeVolder to a new chaplaincy at Saint Anne Communities Victory Noll, Huntington. Since this last move, he said he has enjoyed the ability to actively minister to the Saint Anne community as he regains his strength. Father DeVolder keeps in good spirits and joyful ministry, he said, by looking to the lives of his favorite saints, St. Philip Neri and St. John Vianney, as well as Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.
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