Father Matthew Cannon
Parochial Vicar, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Harrisburg
From St. Leo the Great Parish in Rohrerstown
Lancaster Catholic High School
St. Vincent College
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
When did you first hear or consider the call to be a priest?
For me, it was as early as fifth grade. I heard the call for the first time around 10 years old. At the time, I didn’t really know what to think of it. I had always been in touch with the faith and had been excited about my faith. I always remember sitting in the school Mass on Fridays and really just being amazed at what the priest did on the altar, and being in awe of what he did.
That feeling really carried with me as I got older. In high school, I had a good friend and we started talking, and that’s how I found out he was discerning the priesthood at the same time. This was the first time that, other than my family, that I had someone my own age that I could talk to and share with about what I was feeling.
As I got to the end of high school, I wasn’t ready to make that final decision, that final jump into seminary. I really prayed and asked our Lord, “Lord, I’m really not sure what you’re calling me to do right now, but I know you’re definitely calling me to something special, whatever that is.” So I went through a year of college at St. Vincent’s and got involved in campus ministry. My experience there was good, but I never really felt fulfilled. I really sat down and started praying, asking the Lord what to do. That’s when it was clear to me that I should enter seminary and discern the priesthood, and nine years later, here I am.
What compelled you to finish formation at the Mount?
St. Charles was a great experience, a great seminary and I really enjoyed my time there. A big reason I thought about the Mount, was because of Quo Vadis Days. When I went to Quo Vadis Days for the first time, that really opened my eyes to see that priests have fun. They play sports, they play board games, they watch movies. Growing up, I thought priests just said Mass and read their Bibles all day. That was my perception of priests, and Quo Vadis Days really opened my eyes to see not only how joyous priests are and how much they love their priesthood, but also how much fun they have.
When I was at that retreat, I also really liked going to the Mass. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something about the Mount that I liked, being there in the seminary and the chapel. That stayed with me and when the time came of deciding where I wanted to go for Theology, I’d been praying about it and said the Mount. Looking back, it was a really good decision. I’m fortunate and blessed to call myself a graduate of the Mount.
Were there people or factors that were instrumental in your discernment and/or your decision?
My parents first and foremost. I remember sitting down with them and saying I was going into seminary. My mom, throughout my childhood, would often say, “Matty, have you thought about the priesthood?” and I would say, “Mom, I’m not becoming a priest, stop asking.” I didn’t really think the priesthood was for me at the time. But moms have that sixth sense. She saw that call in me even before I fully embraced it.
I sat both of my parents down and they have been supportive since day one. They have been so supportive. It’s been a long journey, been nine years. I thank God that I’ve been blessed with parents who have supported me. I have two younger brothers and they were also supportive. Next year, I’m going to preside over the wedding of my brother Mike and his fiancé. My grandparents as well. I do have some religious in my family. My grandfather’s brother was a priest and his cousin is a Sister of Mercy.
What’s going through your head as you begin your priestly ministry?
It’s overwhelming in a good way. It’s an amazing blessing I have been given by God…. I can’t wait to be a servant to God’s people. I can’t wait to be a witness to the Gospel. I can’t wait to live the parish life. It’s going to be an amazing journey.