by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — There’s no such thing as a “typical” path for a man discerning his vocation to the priesthood.
“There are a lot of common threads to guys’ vocations . . . but when you really drill down into it, every guy has a unique story toward the priesthood,” said Deacon Colin Adian Haganey.
“With a lot of priests that I know,” he continued, “you look at their family and say, ‘Him? That was the one [God] picked?’”
Deacon Haganey is one of those “Him?” guys.
“I don’t have your run-of-the-mill vocation story,” he said.
Deacon Haganey, 29, is one of five children of Charlie and Jennifer Haganey, now members of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. His father is a manager at a Walgreens pharmacy and his mother is a homemaker. Over the years, the couple has owned small businesses.
His parents are cradle Catholics — sort of.
“My dad was baptized as a kid because his great-aunt, a [Benedictine] nun, insisted, but his family never practiced,” he said. “My mom’s family practiced the faith until she was about 14 and then they fell away. By the time I came around, neither of them was practicing their faith.”
Consequently, Deacon Haganey grew up with a family life devoid of the Catholic faith.
His mother was, however, a spiritual wanderer. Strangely, the Dalai Lama played a role in her return to the Catholic faith.
“She actually started to practice Buddhism for a while,” he said. “But she read a quote by the Dalai Lama: ‘If you can’t find any truth in the religion you grew up in, you won’t find any in Buddhism.’
“That got her looking at the church again and, ultimately, she found out that there was a whole lot of truth in the Catholic Church. I think that kind of sparked her into going back.”
What got the whole family going to a Catholic parish was the infamous “jelly jar incident.”
One Saturday, his parents put then-15-year-old Haganey in charge of his younger siblings, as well as keeping the house clean, while they worked at their small business.
“I kept the house particularly clean because I wanted to go out with friends in the evening,” he said.
About 15 minutes before his parents were to return, Haganey heard a tremendous “crash” in the kitchen. One of his sisters had caused a shelf in the refrigerator to fall and a jar of jelly had broken all over the kitchen floor, making a sharp and sticky mess.
Much yelling and scrapping ensued and, suffice it to say that by the time his parents got home, Haganey’s sister couldn’t wait to tattle.
Instead of the grounding he expected, Haganey was told by his mother that the whole clan was going to Mass the next morning at St. Patrick Church.
“I wasn’t too keen on it at first because it conflicted with my [Kansas City] Chiefs-watching schedule. But after a couple of months I came around,” said Deacon Haganey.
The pastor, Msgr. Michael Mullen, set a good example as a “happy, joyful priest” that inspired him, he added, which encouraged him to become more involved in parish activities.
In March 2006, when he was 16, Haganey was at a parish dinner when he met a young seminarian — the future Father Patrick Sullivan.
“Not knowing me from anybody else at the dinner, he asked me if I’d ever thought of becoming a priest,” he said. “That got me thinking pretty hard about it almost overnight.”
In June, he told Msgr. Mullen that he wanted to be a priest.
The seasoned pastor played it pretty chill.
“Well, I think your baptism is a good first step to take, and we can go on from there,” Msgr. Mullen told him.
That’s right — the kid who hadn’t even been baptized wanted to be a priest.
The young Haganey and his brothers and sisters were all baptized on July 22, 2006. His parents had their marriage convalidated, and Haganey and his father even celebrated their first holy Communion and confirmation together.
After high school graduation, he was admitted to Conception Seminary at Conception, Missouri, and attended for two years. He dropped out for three years due to feelings of uncertainty. But his desire to continue to discern a vocation to the priesthood stayed with him, and he returned to Conception. His certainty matured at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
He was ordained a deacon on May 19, 2018, at Holy Trinity Church in Lenexa. He will be ordained a priest by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 25 at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
Deacon Haganey’s advice to young men thinking about the priesthood is Nike-esque: Just do it.“If you’re thinking about going to seminary, just do it,” he said. “The absolute worst-case scenario is that you aren’t called to be a priest, but you spent a year or two working on yourself as a person and working on your spiritual life. You’ll be a better man, husband or father because of it.”