South Portland native Joseph Moreshead declared his intention to complete preparation for the priesthood in front of family and members of the Portland Diocese, inclduing Bishop Robert Deeley. (Courtesy photo)

Joseph Moreshead, who grew up in South Portland and graduated from Cheverus High School, openly declared his intention to complete his preparation for the priesthood during the Rite of Candidacy, celebrated by Bishop Robert Deeley on Friday, Dec. 21.

“For me, receiving the rite of candidacy is an exceptional joy,” Moreshead said.
During the rite, celebrated in the chapel of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Moreshead stood before the bishop and publicly resolved to prepare himself in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ and his church. Speaking on behalf of the church, the bishop then accepted Moreshead’s intention “with great joy.”
“We come together to mark a particular moment in the vocation journey of Joseph Moreshead who, in this ceremony, expresses his intention to receive the sacrament of holy orders,” Deeley said. “He has been conscientious in his preparation for this sacrament. This has taken place in the many ways in which he has embraced the formation program, but the statement he makes this evening is not just a product of his formation in seminary. It is the fruit of a life of prayer and drawing closer to the Lord and Savior he seeks now to serve more fully in the priesthood.”
Moreshead, 28, has completed two years of study at Theological College in Washington, D.C., and is currently in a pastoral year, serving at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist in Falmouth. He was a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in South Portland when he was growing up and spent summers with the Brothers of Christian Instruction in Alfred.
After graduating from Cheverus, he attended Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York City. While there, he coached swimming at an inner-city public school, served at a homeless shelter in the South Bronx, and became involved with the pro-life movement. He graduated in 2013, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classical language.
Although he said he has long known that God was calling him to the priesthood, he described his journey as “quite a rollercoaster ride,” as he discerned which path to follow. Now, after three years of formation for the Diocese of Portland, he said he feels at home.
“For me, this signals a new phase in my vocation. I don’t have to wander anymore or wonder if this is the right one. She (this diocese belonging to Our Lady) would have me as her priest. Like an engagement, she can change her mind, but the dynamic has shifted, and now, I can focus on preparing myself to be a better and more holy man for her,” he said.
“We are thankful to Joe for responding so generously to this call, and we promise to continue to journey with him to its fullness,” Deeley said.. “Vocation is not just a wish ‘to do good’ but a response to a call from God to use his human gifts and talents for the service of continuing the mission of Jesus.”
Fellow seminarians, family members, and friends were among those who attended the Rite of Candidacy. They joined with the bishop and 11 concelebrating priests in asking God to pour down the grace of his blessing on Moreshead, so that he will continue to draw closer to Christ, will always be able to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and will become a minister of the Church who will strengthen the faith of his brothers and sisters by word and example.