ROME — Former St. Joseph Catholic High School principal Norm Allred has always been devoted to God. For many years, he found his vocation as an educator and in his marriage to his high school sweetheart, Joanne Mooney. Five years ago, though, an unexpected turn led him to pursue a call to the priesthood.
Childhood friends since the third grade at Kearns-Saint Ann School and high school sweethearts at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Allred and Mooney were married on April 28, 1989. Mooney died suddenly in March 2014 as a result of a stroke and brain hemorrhage.
Allred said the support of several diocesan priest friends – Fr. John Norman, Fr. Charles Cummins, Fr. Patrick Carley and Fr. Michael Sciumbato – carried him through the loss of his beloved wife.
As he considered his future in the months that followed the death of his wife, it was very clear from the beginning that he would not marry again, Allred said.
His 25-year marriage “was everything I wanted it to be because it was Joanne,” he said, “but the idea of trying to build a life with someone I hardly know. … I’m not going there.”
Instead, in a special way, Allred’s life has come full circle. As a young teen, he considered becoming a Maryknoll missioner, but at 16, he began dating Mooney and knew very quickly that one day he would make her his wife, he said.
Not long after Mooney passed away, he again began to consider the priesthood. “I had the three non-negotiable traits for a priest: I was single, male and Catholic, and a little voice said, ‘Yeah, maybe you could do this,’” he said.
His friends in the priesthood also nurtured his growing vocation and expressed their support.
Allred first approached the Jesuits, who told him he was too old to join the order. After getting the same response from two other religious orders, he decided to take the Jesuits’ advice and look into becoming a diocesan priest.
Allred also knew he could continue this second career long after the normal retirement age if he so chose. “I can be a priest for as long as I can lift a chalice,” he said.
After deciding to become a diocesan priest, he sought a sponsorship with an Irish diocese. Both Allred and Mooney had a great love of Ireland. Allred had spent some time studying at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland in the 1980s, and the couple had always dreamed of living in Ireland. Eventually he found a sponsorship in the Diocese of Meath.
Allred, who will be 62 when he is ordained next year, has spent the last three years studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome. He will be ordained to the priesthood next summer in the Cathedral of Christ the King in Westmeath, Ireland, where he is serving for the summer.
“Norm was always a very faith-filled man, living his faith and his vocation in marriage, and his desire to be a priest makes perfect sense,” his friend Fr. Norman said.
Allred grew up in Salt Lake City, attended Kearns-Saint Ann School and was a 1976 Judge graduate. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Utah and a teaching certificate from Westminster College. He went on to teach at Catholic schools in Utah, including St. Joseph’s, St. Francis Xavier and Juan Diego Catholic High School.
Fr. Norman and Allred have been friends since he served as the vice principal under Fr. Norman at St. Joseph Catholic High School. When, on June 12, Allred was ordained a transitional deacon in Rome by Bishop Thomas Deenihan of the Diocese of Meath at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Fr. Norman was there.
When Allred told Fr. Norman he was going to Rome to study for the priesthood, Fr. Norman told him he would be there to vest him as a deacon when the time came. In doing so, Fr. Norman was continuing a tradition started when he was a student in Rome 41 years ago. Then, the pastor of his childhood parish, St. Thomas Aquinas, Monsignor Jerome Stoffel, went to Rome to vest him as a transitional deacon.
“It was wonderful,” Fr. Norman said of the experience of vesting Deacon Allred, who he said will make an outstanding priest.
In addition to his faith and devotion, Deacon Allred will bring “his sincere sense of service. He is a very hopeful person; he will bring his lived experience as a teacher, as a married man,” he said.
Although he will give his all to the priesthood, Allred said he will do so as a still-grieving widower.
“Being a priest doesn’t in any way, shape or form change that,” he said. “I miss her every day. I have built a life around the hole in my life where she is. God has given me this great gift to do with my time.”