Shyness only a temporary obstacle in calling to the priesthood

Growing up in a small town in the 1980s in northeastern Pennsylvania, Joseph Eddy had a quiet upbringing. His earliest memories were of playing and laughing with friends in their large backyard, while his Mom made them lunch. Each Sunday Joseph, his two sisters and parents piled into the family car to go to Mass at their small Catholic parish. A small town life in a traditional Catholic family was the beginning of Fr. Joseph’s calling as a Mercedarian priest.

Fr. Joseph after celebrating Mass
Fr. Joseph after celebrating Mass

There was nothing remarkable about their family life, except that the family would pray the rosary every day if possible. “We were also told by my mom that we had to be involved in some aspect of the parish,” Fr. Joseph recalled, when he was about nine years old. One option was that of an altar server.

“Although it was not my first choice, my best friend was going to be an altar server, and didn’t want to serve alone. I decided to become one, too, even though I was fearful of being in front of the others.  Looking back, this was my first step to a greater service of God.”

Joseph would serve Mass on the way to school, and the monsignor of the parish would have him for breakfast. The priest would talk about sports and the New York Yankees. “I felt kind of special that I had a relationship with the older priest,” Fr. Joseph recalls.

While attending the local public school, the youngster found himself thinking about doing something to “really help people.” Others would often mention to him that they felt God might be calling him to be a priest. “I would daydream about this, but then realize that I was too shy to be such a public person,” Fr. Joseph recalled. Indeed, he was voted most shy in his class by his own peers.

Yet, he still wanted to help people, so he went to college to be a teacher. “While at college, I became restless,” Fr. Joseph recalled. “Something was not right in my life. Teaching was interesting, but I wanted something more.”

By the time he got to his first semester in college, at Marywood University, a Catholic college in Scranton, he felt called to the priesthood. Furthermore, a life with a religious order kept coming to his mind. He narrowed the selection down, looking for a group that had a devotion to the Blessed Mother, that was faithful to the Church, and that had devotion to the Eucharist. “In faith, I stepped forward, taking one small step at a time.”

“The Lord led me to an ancient Religious Order that was devoted to Mary, the Eucharist, and faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Now as a Mercedarian priest, I am living my dream of serving people in the Church. I have found fulfillment as a religious priest in the Order of Mercy,” Fr. Joseph says.

Fr. Joseph Eddy was ordained in 2008. He now serves as vocation director, is master of postulants, and helps out at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Philadelphia for the Order, also known as the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, or Mercedarians. Fr. Joseph is stationed at the Order’s U.S. motherhouse there.

The Order’s website is The singing of the Salve can be heard on their popular YouTube video. Or visit the Facebook page of Fr-Joseph Thomas Eddy.