SALT LAKE CITY — Father John Norman was assigned as pastor of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish effective Aug. 17.
Previously, he was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Magna.
"Coming to St. Vincent is returning to my home parish; I know many of the people here, and there is a great sense of community here for me," he said. "My family moved to Salt Lake City from Logan in 1968. I began attending Judge Memorial (Catholic High School) in 1967 and graduated in 1971. I’ve known some of these people here since then."
Fr. Norman was interested in the priesthood throughout his youth and "it is an ongoing process," he said. He attended Mount Angel Seminary in Saint Benedict, Ore., and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy.
He was ordained a priest on Sept. 7, 1979, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine by Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal.
"Fr. Norman has been a very faithful and talented priest and educator who has demonstrated a real enthusiasm for ministry and priesthood," said Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general. "He has especially excelled in building community and love for Catholic education in the diocese. He is a very skilled teacher and homilist, deals excellently with people of all ages, but especially young adults, and has a real commitment to social justice issues in the Church. He does have a very quick and dry sense of humor and wit, and is one of the most articulate priests I know. He is also a wonderful cook. He has a great fondness for the pioneer pastors of the diocese – I remember his speaking so often with great fondness about Monsignor Jerome Stoffel, for example."
"Msgr. Stoffel was the only priest I knew until I was 13 years old," Fr. Norman said. "He was the pastor in Logan at Saint Thomas Aquinas for 30 years, and I always felt that he was aware of me even as a little kid. He was a very nice and pleasant fellow and always seemed very accessible to me as a person. There weren’t many children in the parish, so he was certainly responsible for making me feel comfortable. He also flew to Rome to be at my ordination as a deacon."
Fr. Norman also remembers Monsignor Mark Benvegnu and Father Thomas McNamara, both longtime priests with the diocese, who helped him in many ways, he said.
St. Vincent de Paul isn’t a new parish for Fr. Norman. He was associate pastor there from 1980-1983, and again from 2006-2008, when he also assisted at Saint John the Baptist Parish in Draper. Fr. Norman has also been an associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Salt Lake City, provided weekend assistance at Saint Mary of the Assumption in Park City and served as priest moderator at Immaculate Conception Parish in Copperton. He provides a Sunday Mass during the ski season at Our Lady of the Snows Center in Alta.
In ministering to people in the various parishes throughout the diocese, Fr. Norman has learned that, "The spirit is alive in the church and people are anxious to learn about their faith," he said. "Great things happen when we get out of the way and are open to the unexpected."
Fr. Norman has been either a teacher or an administrator at each of Utah’s three Catholic high schools, and his own experience in Catholic school was formative in his life, he said. He felt a lack of faith community as a youth in Logan although he felt like he belonged in his parish, he said. While attending Judge Memorial, he was happy that his school and parish were both part of his faith community, he said.
"It is probably the reason why I am a priest today," he said.
"The entire school environment is imbued with Catholic values," Fr. Norman said, adding that a Catholic education allows important daily issues to be discussed in the context of faith. In the Catholic schools, "parents know that moral and cultural issues will be discussed in the context of faith and they don’t have to be afraid of what will be discussed in the classroom," he said. "Students also get the regular celebration of the sacraments during the school day, observance of liturgical seasons, daily prayers, and hopefully effective modeling from teachers and administrators."
Fr. Norman served on the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Peace and Justice Commission from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2005 to the present. "The peace and justice issues are the practical, tangible, experiential part of our faith," he said. "Its importance is that it’s central and an opportunity for people to fulfill the mission of the church, which makes the Gospel a part of daily life. What is so important about that and all the documents written about peace and justice are that they strengthen my priesthood."