Meet Adam Droll

By LORETTA FULTON

A familiar face returned to Holy Family Catholic Church in July when Adam Droll became parochial administrator. He previously served the parish as parochial vicar.

Droll was born and raised in San Angelo, graduating from Central High School in 2007. He was assigned to the Newman Center at Angelo State University the past three years before coming to Holy Family July 1. As much as he enjoyed college ministry, Droll is happy to be back at the parish he previously served.

“I learned a lot from the experience, and I met tremendously good people,” Droll said. “But my heart has always been drawn to a parish setting, and I’m excited that I get to do that again, particularly here at Holy Family.”

Rev. Adam Droll and Bishop Michael Sis at Holy Family Catholic Church. Photo by Loretta Fulton

Q&A with Adam Droll

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in San Angelo, where I lived with my parents in the same house until I turned 18 and went to seminary.

2. When and where did you graduate from high school?

Central High School in San Angelo in 2007

3. What is your education beyond high school?

I went to Conception Seminary College in Missouri right out of High School, where I received a bachelors of arts with an emphasis in philosophical and theological studies.  Then I went to Mundelein Seminary, which is north of Chicago, where I received a Masters of Divinity and a STB (Bachelors in Sacred Theology, a degree that the Catholic Church can bestow on students).  I did coursework for an STL (License in Sacred Theology, same situation as an STB) but never finished the thesis.  I did a three year training program that finished in 2021 to be formed as a spiritual director through an institute called St. Peter Upon the Water.

4. When and where were you ordained a priest? Who was the bishop?

I was ordained on May 30, 2015 with two other men at the Cathedral in San Angelo by Bishop Sis.

5. What was your first assignment?

When I was ordained, I was sent back to Mundelein Seminary for another year to work on the STL. When I came back, I was assigned to Holy Family here in Abilene for two years, then St. Stephen’s in Midland for one year, then the Newman Center at Angelo State University for the last three years before I was assigned back here at Holy Family on July 1 of this year.

6. When you were at Holy Family previously, you were parochial vicar. Now you parochial

administrator. What is the difference?

Parochial vicar, associate, assistant priest: these are all ways of naming the same thing.  Basically, when I was here before I was tasked with aiding Fr. Fred in the ministry here at the parish.  In Catholic thinking, each parish has a physical territory where the pastor of that territory has the care of souls, meaning that the pastor is charged with taking care of the spiritual welfare of the people in his parish boundaries, Catholic or not.  As a vicar, I was here to help Fr. Fred do that important work, and also I had the added benefit of learning as I went since I was a new priest who would one day be given the same responsibility.

7. Is there another designation for parish priests beyond parochial administrator? If so, are

you in line for that?

The difference between a parochial administrator and a pastor is a canonical distinction.  It involves the same scope of work and decision making, but pastors in Canon Law have a few more rights and privileges that an administrator does not.  So, after a one year period, the diocese will have the dean of this deanery do an administrative review to evaluate whether I should be given the distinction of “pastor”. This is a normal process we have had in our diocese for a while for all of us who are for the first time put in charge of a parish.

8. What will your duties be at the church?

The simple answer is to help people get closer to Christ. The way we do that takes a lot of forms and visioning.  Practically speaking, it means celebrating Mass, visiting the sick, burying the dead, and organizing the parishioners and staff in such a way that we can meet the spiritual needs of the people and help them to know Christ more intimately. It also means taking care of the physical plant of the parish, from maintenance to updating safety measures, to policies on how we use our buildings. It’s really a broad range of things, but anything that is involved with having a physical plant and how to use it and our time for getting to know Christ. Since I have the care of souls of the people in these boundaries, we need to use what we have to bring people to Christ the best we can.

9. Before being assigned to Holy Family, you were a chaplain at Angelo State University.

Describe some of the challenges/blessings in that ministry.

I was in charge of the campus ministry there in San Angelo for the last three years.  Some of the challenges included the frequent turnover of students who would graduate and move, making it hard to establish stability, being there during COVID, trying to break into the college atmosphere and bring people into what we were doing at the Newman Center, dealing with overly busy or overly emotional students. Whether it is college ministry or any other ministry, I don’t enjoy how much time I have spent on event planning, budgeting concerns, and conflict resolution between individuals. Some of the blessings were meeting very dedicated and driven young people who had a heart for the faith and evangelization, helping students make breakthroughs in their personal and spiritual lives, and meeting new students who found faith.

10. When did you first feel called to the priesthood?

From the time I was a little kid, I thought a lot about being a priest. I remember one of my pious little kid thoughts being, “I have to go to Mass anyway, I might as well be the guy who decides how long it should be!” I liked being an altar server and I found things about the faith interesting.  I have an uncle who is a priest in Midland, and his example was what normalized priesthood and encouraged me to consider priesthood as a calling. My parents raised me as a Catholic, and both of them are still practicing Catholics to this day, so that example was an encouragement to me, because again, as a youth, I thought my parents were reasonable people and we wouldn’t be doing something unreasonable. My dad in particular never worked for a parish or the diocese, but he is the type of person who lives by the scripture passage, “Do not let your left hand know what your right is doing.” He is a silent supporter of his parish, doing things without complaint, like taking a weekly early morning shift at the adoration chapel, or keeping his eye on the church parking lot to make sure to spray weed killer from time to time. He has never made a big show of what he does.  He just does it, and moves onto the next thing.

11. Holy Family is a very active high-profile church in Abilene. Do you have new programs

you want to start? What are some of the ministries at the church that weren’t there when

you served before? Does the church still have an active refugee ministry?

One of the beautiful things about this parish is that there are a lot of dedicated people here who want to see this parish flourish, and are willing to give of themselves to make that happen. So part of my hope is to be an organizing force for all of the talent that is in this place. My main goal is again to bring people closer to Jesus, and whatever programs and projects that will do that, I’m all for.  I’ve wondered if we should revive any of the retreat movements that have ebbed and flowed through the Catholic Church in recent years in hopes of using this as one avenue to actualize this goal a little bit more. A lot of the programs that are in place here are the same ones I knew from my time here, but it has also only been four years since I was here last. What will naturally happen over time is new programs will rise up and others will fade away depending on needs. For instance, I talked with a few people today who wanted to resurrect a group called Mommy and Me to be a support system for moms with little ones. This was a program that was here before my time, and fell out of service for whatever reasons (lack of leadership, lack of need, not sure of the history there) but now there seems to be a resurgent need. That’s the beautiful thing about doing work for the Lord. If we’re detached enough from making certain things work or not, we can let them go when they need to be dropped, and pick them up again when they are needed.

12. I’m sure you are happy that Father Fred is still in Abilene and willing to help you at Holy

Family. How do you divide the duties between the two of you? How many deacons do

you have at Holy Family? Are there still Sisters at the church?

Fr. Fred is a delight! He has always been very easy to get along with, and now that he and I in a sense have switched roles, he has been extremely gracious about it. He still gives me advice and perspective about situations and systems at the parish, which is helpful, and he has been supportive and undomineering. I take Mondays off, so he hears confessions and celebrates Mass on those days, and also we have a schedule of preaching and celebrating other Masses through the week. He is retired, so he doesn’t do any administrative work (what a blessing!  If only we could all be so lucky) but has helped me in a pinch to take Masses or confessions or sick calls.  He is also helping the other parishes in town as he is able to.  So everything else falls to me, or rather the staff and I, and thankfully I have a very active staff who makes a lot of good things happen around the parish. Right now there are no religious sisters working at the parish, which is unfortunate, but it is also difficult to find them due to the shortage of vocations in general, and due to the fact that religious sisters and brothers tend to live in a community, and are not oftentimes called to do parish ministry.

13. What are some activities you enjoy on your days off?

When I’m off, I like to visit family and friends. Some days I just want to lay low, play video games, and go to crossfit. I started the habit of going to crossfit 5-6 times a week about two years ago and it has been one of the best things for not only my physical health but my mental health as well!  

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