‘I’m very hopeful for the future of the Church’: A Q&A with Father Joseph Littlefield

For recently ordained Father Joseph Littlefield, an interest in old cars isn’t just a random fad. It’s an opportunity to evangelize as a future priest. The soon-to-be ordained seminarian isn’t expecting to lose that interest when he becomes a priest this summer. As he puts it, “our hobbies and different interests are a great way to get people who might not already be in the pews. Jesus went around all over the place doing different things, so why shouldn’t we?”

What’s your name + nickname around the seminary?

My name is Joseph Littlefield. Some of my nicknames are Joe, Jack, Pepé, Deacon Little Joe, Deacon Chevrolet and Deacon Snoop Dogg.

How many siblings do you have, and what number are you?

I have three older siblings, one sister and two brothers. I am the youngest.

When was the first moment you felt called to be a priest?

When I was 14 years old, after serving a first communion/confirmation mass at my home parish when my Bishop cracked a joke and said “Oh, you dropped the lemon, you should join the seminary!”

What excites you the most about being a priest?

I’m very excited about being able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with and for the great and holy people of God and to be able to help make Jesus present in the Eucharist with my very own two hands!

You’re known around the seminary for your love for cars. Can you tell us more about that?

I really like old cars… I was at Back to the Fifties, which was a car show here in the Twin Cities. I was talking to one guy, and he asked me [“what do you do?”] and I said, “I’m studying to be a Catholic priest,” and he almost couldn’t fathom that … priests are people too. If you have hobbies, use that to your advantage, that can be great evangelization. A lot of car shows fall on Sundays; I hope I can go to celebrate Mass then go drive my pickup to the car show! Our hobbies and different interests are a great way to get people who might not already be in the pews. Jesus went around all over the place doing different things, so why shouldn’t we?

What is your favorite vintage car?

Oh, that’s like asking a parent which kid is their favorite child! I like pretty much anything Chevy or General Motors as far as old cars go, but if I had to choose one, I’d say my favorite vintage car is a 1947-1953 Chevy half-short box pickup truck.

What has been most life-giving throughout your time in seminary?

Spending quality time in fraternity with my fellow seminarians and priests. It’s a hard thing to explain and put into words, but because of all our shared experiences throughout the seminary formation process, we all share a special bond.

What’s your favorite class in seminary and why?

I really liked all the classes I took with (spiritual director) Msgr. (Steven Rohlfs) but especially the one called the Theology of the Diocesan Priesthood, because Monsignor has so much practical wisdom and knowledge that he passes on very well through his many different stories of life experiences he has had as a priest. In other words, since Monsignor is such a good storyteller, his stories make it a lot easier to remember and recall the material we were learning.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rohlfs served as rector and vice president at Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Maryland from 2004-15 and was featured on the latest Joyful Catholic Leaders Show podcast.

What’s something you have learned this year?

I’ve learned as a deacon that God works very powerfully in other people’s lives through my preaching of his holy word in my homilies, and this has been both a very humbling and encouraging thing for me that has pushed me to become a better and holier man of prayer.

As you prepare for ordination, do you have a particular devotion to a saint or such?

I have a litany of saints that I pray to every day, but I most often ask for St. Joseph and Our Lady’s intercession. They both have taken really good care of me throughout my life!

Are you hopeful for the future of the church with what you see happening at seminary?

I’m very hopeful for the future of the Church with what I see happening at the seminary. Our formation programs continue to get better with each passing year. But I’m most hopeful because of the men I’m surrounded with are really holy, humble, zealous and authentic in their pursuit of doing God’s will for their lives. I also think that right now the Church is being purified, which will only make her better and stronger than ever before. And because of all this, I can’t help but think that God has something very big planned for Church in the near future.


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