Father Monte Hoyles
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Father Monte Hoyles

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Date of Ordination:
June 3, 2006

Influences:
Father Joseph Szybka, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Attica, O.

Interests:
Reading, particularly books on theology, and sharing food and conversation with friends.

Best thing about priesthood:
Celebrating Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.

 

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“Don’t be afraid of Jesus Christ.”

Father Monte Hoyles always told himself that when he got bored with being an accountant, he’d give it up.

He never did get bored, but he did get busy – to the point where, after six years of success, he “bottomed out,” leading him to seek help from his parish priest, Father Joseph Szybka.

After the two had talked a few hours, Father Szybka threw out a question: “Have you ever thought about the seminary?”

“I said ‘no,’ because I had a really good job,” Father Hoyles recalls. Indeed, he was traveling for the corporate headquarters and moving up in his organization. Apart from feeling burned out after juggling two jobs for three months, he says, “Things were very promising.”

But Father Szybka persisted and invited the young accountant to visit the Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary in Columbus, O. After going, Father Hoyles says he thought, “Maybe I’d better think about this.”

He began stopping at his parish church, Our Lady of Hope in Attica, O., on his way home from work to pray about whether God might be calling him to the priesthood.

Within eight months, he was filling out an application to be a priest for the Toledo Diocese.

Once in the seminary, however, he still faced questions about whether he would stay and ultimately seek ordination.

“You have to go through some kind of questioning, some kind of, I’ll call it suffering, for a lack of a better term,” Father Hoyles says. “ . . . It’s almost like the suffering purifies the vocation. It makes you more serious about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

Part of his struggle involved seeing happily married men and women with children and thinking, “Boy that looks really nice.”

“But then you have to consider it from their perspective, too, and say, ‘OK it’s a job every day, the married vocation. You have to take care of your children, you have to take care of all these other things’ so you look at the grass and you say, ‘Is it greener?’ In some ways it is and in some ways it isn’t.”

Talking with a spiritual director helped, Father Hoyles says, and by the time he returned to the seminary after spending a year in a parish, he was able to declare his candidacy for priesthood.

Since ordination, Father Hoyles says he has experienced the usual challenges of every first-year priest – finding time to pray regularly (in his case at least an hour a day,) learning how to relax amid the demands of parish life, and wondering if he is doing the right thing in counseling a parishioner or preparing a couple for marriage.

He finds that sleeping in recharges his battery, as does going out with friends for a leisurely meal, but he also likes to read and usually has five or six books going at a time. Right now, he’s working through Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis.

His first year of priesthood has given him an up-close-and-personal look at parishioners’ lives. “I often see the muck of the muck that people are going through . . . sitting with people in the hospital who are going through a terrible illness or their family is dealing with somebody in hospice . . . The family that has financial problems . . . People dealing with sin and . . . feeling that they can’t get out of it.”

Illness struck his own family in his first year of priesthood as well when his father, Lou Hoyles, suffered a heart attack on Nov. 23, 2006. The experience forever changed the way Father Hoyles ministers to others.

“Instead of seeing people as another case . . . I think now when I go to minister to somebody I can say I’m going to do my best to be in this with you for the long haul.”

There have been peak experiences in his first year, too, mainly involving the sacraments. “I celebrate Mass every day, but it’s . . . like brand new every time I do it,” Father Hoyles says. “The real upper I’ll have to admit, is when I’m able to hold the bread and say the words of consecration and mean that, ‘This is my body given up for you.’ I’m not saying it because Christ said it. I’m saying it because I’m saying it in His person.”

 
   
 


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