St. Francis Borgia Parish has a new associate pastor and he happens to be the youngest ordained priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The Rev. Tony Ritter, 25, who was ordained May 25, assumed his new duties at Borgia in early June.
He said he’s looking forward to building relationships and meeting the people of Washington.
“I’ve heard so much about the sense of community here in Washington,” Father Ritter said. “A lot of people are family here.”
A native of O’Fallon, Father Ritter isn’t too far from home. Both of his parents still live there. His younger sister moved to California where she has become a cloistered nun for the past four years.
At 25, he is the youngest priest in the St. Louis Archdiocese by about two months. He said he was able to go through seminary quicker than normal because he skipped a year due to college credit.
“They added a year to formation that didn’t affect me,” Father Ritter said. “Now guys will normally get ordained when they’re 27.”
Father Ritter attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for seven years following graduation from Fort Zumwalt West High School. His decision to become a priest came to him through a lot of prayer.
“I met a lot of people, holy people,” he said. “There were a lot of holy priests in my life who set a great example for me.”
Father Ritter said that living in sanctity and striving to have a relationship with God is what drew him into wanting to become a pastor. He also he wants to care for others and that priests are men of great service.
His role at St. Francis Borgia Parish is still being established since he has only been there for about a month.
“I’ll be saying Mass here on the weekends. I’ll be hearing confessions. I’ll be involved in the community making hospital visits, communion calls,” he said. “Ideally, I’d like to be involved in a youth program, but I don’t know what that will look like. It’s really based on whatever my pastor (Father Joe Womack) needs help with.”
Father Ritter said that becoming ordained has already brought him peace.
“There was a lot of prayer and a lot of discernment. It seemed pretty clear. I’ve found so much joy, peace and happiness in this vocation already,” he said.
Before he was ordained, Father Ritter was assigned to work as a deacon at Incarnate Word Parish in Chesterfield.
“I was there and it was just a phenomenal experience,” he said. “It was great journeying with people and getting to know them. We had real conversations about their faith and other beliefs, entrusting Him more, and trying to be the best Christian examples they can be in their lives. That has been rewarding to me.”
Father Ritter said he will serve wherever the archdiocese needs him. Although he doesn’t know how long he will be in Washington, he is looking forward to his time in the community.