July 7, 2019
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Fr. Ryan McMillin, and I’m thrilled to say that St. James is my new home!
I’ll have to admit that I haven’t yet grown accustomed to hearing that—“Father” Ryan McMillin—because it was only a month ago that I was ordained to the priesthood. In other words, I’m coming to you as a newbie. I’m coming as one who hopes to continue to learn, this time not so much in a classroom but in a strong community of faith. From the time I was told of my new assignment (way back in February), I’ve heard so many good things about St. James. I have every bit of confidence that this will be a great place for me to serve and begin to grow into my priestly ministry.
Before I begin to learn from you all, let me tell you a little about my own journey to the present day. Some thirty years ago, I was born in Denver. Just a year or so into life, I moved to Oak Lawn, Illinois, where I later attended St. Linus School and Richards High School.
During high school, I thought I might eventually like to have a career in politics/government, so I went off to study in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University. Thankfully it only took me a few weeks into my classes to realize that I had very few gifts for politics, so I quickly changed course and decided to study economics and mathematics instead. I enjoyed the latter so much that I went on to get a graduate degree in it.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), that enjoyment lasted only until I got my first desk job as a statistician in, of all places, the government. Just a few weeks in, I realized that the plan I had charted out for myself would not even come close to fulfilling me at a deep level. It was in my cubicle that I first began to think about what would be more life-giving. Through many good conversations with friends, family, and good mentor priests, I finally discerned that it might be ministry as a priest that would bring me the fulfillment I was looking for.
With a bit of prayer and guidance, the decision to follow the path to ordained ministry was not too difficult to make. After all, I had been working through high school and college as a part-time pianist/organist, so church was no foreign place to me. I also had side jobs tutoring or teaching in various capacities. While in college there began in my life a series of profound encounters with the Word of God through Scripture, liturgy, community service, and the good example of others. All of these seemed to be pointing me toward priesthood.
My reflecting on God’s work in my own life led me to begin preparation for the priesthood at Mundelein Seminary. I spent six long/short years continuing my formation there. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a seminarian intern and then transitional deacon at St. Emily in Mt. Prospect.
My journey to the present day has been an exciting one, and I’m grateful that God has guided me even when I haven’t been keen to realize it. I’m so excited to begin the next part of my journey at St. James and most of all to hear about and learn from your own journeys into a deeper relationship with our Lord.
Thanks for your welcome and for your prayers. You can be sure to count on mine for all of you!