From West Point to the priesthood: Fr. Josh Miller prepared to serve in a whole new way

The son of a United States Army officer, Fr. Josh Miller always thought he might end up in the military himself someday.

Maybe not quite like this, though.

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester on June 8, Miller has his sights set on becoming a chaplain for the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the next few years. In some ways, it won’t be new territory; before entering the seminary, Miller spent five years as an Army field artillery officer.

“Recently, I’ve been reflecting back on when I started seminary, gosh, seven years ago – where I was then
and what I was thinking the Lord’s plan for my life was,” Miller said. “Just getting into seminary was just a whole new adventure, and there’s kind of that same sense now.”

Miller grew up on a farm near Waseca, Minnesota.

After graduating from Waseca High School, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Miller didn’t see combat during his half-decade leading an artillery platoon. But he was stationed inn Japan and South Korea for joint training exercises with both Asian U.S. allies.

“It was a call to service,” Miller said. “I wanted to do something that had a mission, that was going to make a difference in the world.”

That desire has never subsided.

As an officer coming out of West Point, Miller was immediately placed in charge of dozens of soldiers. Some of them were much older than him. Some had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Over and over, I would recognize ‘these guys don’t need a boss; they need someone to talk to,’” Miller said. “I thought I was going to be in the Army to be a field officer and be a leader; maybe I’m called to something else.”

“It was a call to service. I wanted to do something that had a mission, that was going to make a difference in the world.” — Fr. Josh Miller, Diocese of Winona-Rochester

Miller first attended Mundelein Seminary in Illinois before transferring to The Saint Paul Seminary this year. He’ll spend his first few years as a priest in a parish setting, with plans to transition to military chaplaincy after that.

“One of the things that I’ve grown to love since entering seminary — especially being out in public wearing a collar — people will come and ask you to pray for them,” Miller said. “They’ll really share with you some very personal struggles with the Lord, with their family, with health stuff, all kinds of things. It’s happening multiple times where I don’t know this person very well and they’re sharing their heart with me. … As a deacon, you can pray for them in that moment and afterwards, but I’m so excited to bring the power of the sacraments into people’s lives.”

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