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  Father Joins His Son as a Catholic Priest
07/07/2020

## FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ##

JOLIET, IL—It is not uncommon for father and son to share a vocation or trade.  Less common, however, is for father and son to share a vocation as priests in the Catholic Church. 

Fr. Peter Infanger’s route to becoming a priest was not a normal one. His wife, Michelle, died in 2013 from breast cancer. He had a career in marketing for over 30 years and is 65 years old. He has children and grandchildren. And perhaps most unusual of all, his son, Andrew, preceded him on the path to ordination.

Despite this extraordinary situation, Fr. Peter felt a call to the priesthood, which he traces to a spiritual awakening in 1989, when he was 34 years old. It was the lowest point in his life, he said. He was struggling at work. Struggling in his marriage to the point that he and his wife, who had two small boys, separated for 10 months.

“I was following the world’s way of doing things,” he said. “I was a superficial Catholic. I thought, if I gave God an hour on Sunday and didn't kill anyone or rob a bank, that that was all God was asking.”

It was through the urging of a distant cousin, who introduced him to a God who knew him by his name and loved him unconditionally, that Peter’s faith life started to change.

He started reading the Bible, reached out to his wife and reconciled with her. He gradually reordered his priorities in life. But then his wife died suddenly, and all that they had planned for the future had disappeared. Left with a blank slate, some big questions popped on his radar: Why was he here on earth? Where was he going next? And what did God want from him?

Then, one day, something he had never considered before appeared in the form of a question asked by a friend from his men’s group at church: have you thought about becoming a priest?

Peter’s youngest son, Andrew, was in the seminary at the time [he’s now a priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee]. Andrew told him there are only three vocations in life: being single, being married, or having a religious vocation, such as being a priest or religious brother or sister. After a period of discernment, he decided to pursue life as a priest and at age 59, followed in his son’s footsteps and entered the seminary.

Becoming a priest in the Catholic Church requires a vow of celibacy, and so the case of a father and son both being priests is an extreme rarity and requires special circumstances.  Married men are not permitted into the priesthood, except in certain circumstances, such as a candidate who converted from another faith, or, as is the case with Father Peter, a widower.

The hardest part about the path to the priesthood, he said, was letting go.

“In the [real] world, you think it’s all on your shoulders,” he said. “In the spiritual world, we have to lay down our will and do God’s will, not my will, but thy will be done. That’s been the hardest thing to get used to.”

Appropriately on Father’s Day weekend, Fr. Andrew Infanger was in attendance for his dad’s ordination.

“To have my dad as a priest is basically just like having my dad as ‘my dad.’ It’s not too much different than before, which I suppose might not be the answer people expect,” Father Andrew said. “I think from the outsider perspective, people find it more interesting than I do.”

Father Andrew does note one exception, however. “I might not go to you for Confession… unless it is an emergency. Then I’ll stop by.”

Father Peter looks forward to serving the people of the Diocese of Joliet. “I’m hoping that my life experience of being married for 34 years and having children will help me minister to families in the parish, and I know that God uses everything that we do to help further His Kingdom. I’m grateful for everything that’s happened. I’m grateful for my family, my wife, and I’m looking forward helping out and being part of [God’s] plan.”



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