Joseph Daheim graduated from Holy Trinity in 2008 as an exceptional and involved student. Nine years later, he has recently been ordained a priest for the Diocese of Austin.
While every priest has a different story of how God called them to the priesthood, Fr. Joseph’s begins when he was just seven years old serving as an altar server at his home parish of St. Luke’s in Temple. He said it was in this role that he experienced what he called “a strong desire to be near the Eucharist and to serve at the altar.” It was in his proximity to Christ in the Eucharist, and in the witness of Msgr. Louis Pavlicek (St. Luke’s pastor at the time), that Fr. Joseph began to get a glimpse of the life that God was calling him to.
This “glimpse” continued in his experience as a student at Holy Trinity. When asked what about Holy Trinity Fr. Joseph most remembers, he responded by saying, “the loving community and [the] Catholic faith.” He cites the witness of the two priests assigned to Holy Trinity at the time, Fr. Charlie Davis and Fr. Anselm Anukem, as being influential in his own response to God’s call. Fr. Joseph most remembers these men for the different ways in which they embodied Jesus, remembering Fr. Charlie for his simple, loving presence and remembering Fr. Anselm for his tough, but fun-filled Latin classes and homilies challenging the students to live out their faith. Fr. Joseph recalled that Fr. Anselm used to end every homily with the phrase, “You’re going to be somebody one day.”
That has certainly been the case for Fr. Joseph who, even in high school, was never a “nobody.” He was a highly involved student, serving as an altar server, helping the golf team earn four state championship titles, swimming on the swim team during its inaugural year, setting records on the school’s forensics team, being a member of the school’s Culture Club and National Honor Society, and partaking of all the incredible opportunities Holy Trinity gives students to become the “Christian leaders of tomorrow.”
At the time of his graduation though, Fr. Joseph did not think that being a “Christian leader” meant that he was necessarily called to become a priest. While he briefly considered joining the seminary, he determined that it was not the right time to do so, and chose to instead pursue a degree in History from the University of Dallas. However, at the end of his sophomore year of college his mind changed. He was in Adoration when Fr. Joseph experienced a direct invitation from God to become a priest and enter the seminary immediately.
Fr. Joseph answered that call and became a seminarian for the Diocese of Austin, transferring to the Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas and graduating in 2012 with degrees in History and Philosophy. He then attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for a year before transferring to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from this program in 2017 with a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, and a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Diocese of Austin on June 3, 2017 by Bishop Joe Vasquez.
When asked about the impact of his experiences at Holy Trinity, Fr. Joseph expressed that he is especially thankful for those experiences that prepared him for his current ministry as a priest. He credits his experience on Holy Trinity’s forensics team as being extremely helpful in giving him the skills necessary to speak in public and prepare daily homilies. He is also grateful for the opportunity during his junior and senior year of high school to volunteer at a local nursing home as a part of Holy Trinity’s required service hours. Initially Fr. Joseph described himself as being “fearful at times” when visiting the elderly as a student, but eventually found that the experience was better able to help him “really love people,” proving tremendously helpful as he visits the sick and dying in hospitals as a priest.
Thus, having benefited from Catholic education in many ways, Fr. Joseph recognizes its tremendous importance. He is currently serving as the Associate Pastor of St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Georgetown, and describes the ability to celebrate mass for the students who attend the Catholic school there as a “powerful” experience, relishing the challenge of adapting his preaching to involve the students through questions and messages relevant to their young lives.
Speaking about Catholic education, Fr. Joseph said, “[It] is so important because, while education is important, math and science and everything, our most important education is learning to be modeled after Christ.” Being able to foster this imitation of Christ in the students of St. Helen’s Catholic School through his call to spiritual fatherhood is one of the things Fr. Joseph said he most enjoys about being a priest. As he said this, he mentioned that the 2nd grade class had just walked by and had waved to him excitingly.
Hearing him say this, one has to wonder if there was a little boy in that class who would one day say that it was the witness of Fr. Joseph that had led him to consider his own call to the priesthood. Perhaps, since Fr. Joseph ended the conversation by expressing his desire to say mass for Holy Trinity sometime in the future, there is a current student at Holy Trinity who might one day say the same thing.
* * *
It’s quite true what Fr. Joseph said: education in the basic subjects like math and science is certainly important, but students can find this type of education almost anywhere. What is harder to find is a person or community of people who can truly teach students what it looks like to imitate Christ in the way that they live their lives. Thankfully, Fr. Joseph found such a place in Holy Trinity Catholic High School, and I am confident that other students since then have found the same thing as well.
If you are an alum of Holy Trinity Catholic High School, or you know someone who has become the person they are today because of Holy Trinity, please contact Alyssa Snyder at email@example.com. We would love to hear your story!
* * *
About the Author
Alyssa Snyder is a proud alumna of Holy Trinity Catholic High School, graduating from the Class of 2013 as the Valedictorian. She currently works at Holy Trinity teaching Speech and Senior Theology and serving as the Dean of Student Services and Campus Ministry.