Take 5 with Father: ask questions, answer "yes"

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

Father Ray McDaniel, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Lewisville (NTC photo/Susan Moses)

HE IS: Father Ray McDaniel, ordained July 7, 2007,  pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Lewisville. 

He has also served at Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Megargel, Sacred Heart Parish in Seymour, and St. Peter Parish in Lindsay. 

GROWING UP: Raised Baptist in Shreveport, Louisiana, Fr. McDaniel seemed an unlikely candidate to be a priest for the Diocese of Fort Worth. 

THE QUESTIONS: During his graduate studies in liturgical music and his subsequent employment as a music director for an Episcopal church, Fr. McDaniel began to question the conflicting interpretations of sacred Scripture. 

Fr. McDaniel never imagined “my theological questions would be answered by the Catholic Church.” The sacraments were a “welcome revelation,” along with the unbroken history of apostolic succession and the “Holy Spirit still active and living . . . in the Church, in the Magisterium, leading the people in a collective way to the right interpretation of sacred Scripture.”

CONVERSION: When Fr. McDaniel made his profession of faith and joined the Catholic Church at 30, he “thought he’d arrived with God. I’d discovered the Church. I was exhilarated.”  

THE CALL: Fr. McDaniel’s previous professional and personal dreams began to lose their luster. He began to suspect “God wanted more of me than just to be a Catholic.” 

After much prayer and discernment, Fr. McDaniel made his decision. “Interiorly I felt a complete 180, going from swimming upstream to being carried along. It didn’t take away the concerns about quitting my job, selling my house, and making a major life change, but it relativized them. There was a real sense of peace with letting go and saying ‘yes.’”

FIRST ASSIGNMENTS: Fr. McDaniel had always lived in a city, and he “didn’t think I’d be a good fit” for the rural parishes, “but those people were just wonderful. They trained me and they embraced me, so I loved it.” 

BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A PRIEST: “Celebrating Mass and confession, planting spiritual seeds that you trust the Holy Spirit will bring to fruition in His time. Encountering people at moments of their life when Jesus Christ can be of help to them,” even for a 2 a.m. hospital visit.

PRAYER LIFE: Fr. McDaniel makes a Holy Hour daily “and couldn’t live without it,” and he prays the Rosary. “I continually struggle to be meditative and contemplative when you have a lot to do and things are piling on your desk. But when you put God first, everything else falls into place.”

APTITUDE: When he was a junior in high school, an aptitude test revealed four career fields that would suit him well: law, teaching, religion, and music. The priesthood incorporates all of those, he said, reminding him “God gives you the gifts to do what He asks you to do.”

Meet Father Ray McDaniel, who was thrilled to convert to Catholicism. But when his previous professional and personal dreams began to lose their luster, he began to suspect “God wanted more of me than just to be a Catholic.”