It’s been a long and winding road for Rev. Joseph Glaab – who, at 56, is often years older than some of his fellow priests who have just been ordained – but his destination is the same.
“It’s been a long journey, but I can see God’s hand in what has occurred over the years,” said Glaab, who was ordained to the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor on July 15 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park.
“I’ve learned from things, even from making less than good choices. It’s been a blessed experience. I’ve met a lot of good people and I’ve been blessed at every turn.”
Glaab was born in Guelph, Ont., and grew up with six brothers and sisters. He studied forestry at the University of Toronto, but also took philosophy courses and the thought of the priesthood was never really far behind.
“The ordained priesthood was always in the back of my mind, but I was in forestry and wanted to pursue it in an environmentally sensitive way,” Glaab said. “Forestry was a Canadian thing to do.”
After five years working in northern Ontario, Glaab moved to the Diocese of Prince George to work with the Frontier Apostles, volunteering in parishes and schools in exchange for room and board.
“We hear in the Church the need for missions, and this was my way of contributing,” said Glaab, who was assigned to work with the Church of the Resurrection Parish and in schools in Fort St. John.
The Frontier Apostles program ended in 1993 and Glaab joined the B.C. Forest Service, but the Church of the Resurrection Parish wanted him to continue. Instead of taking overtime pay, Glaab would use his time off to continue to work with the parish on evenings and weekends.
The Diocese of Prince George had a lasting impact on Glaab, so much so that Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner offered the Imposition of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination at Glaab’s ordination Mass.
In 1994 Glaab studied at Newman Theological College, and he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary intending to explore ordination to the priesthood. But after three years, he withdrew.
“It was a good experience, but I felt I wasn’t called to go further. At the time I was honest as to my relationship with God.”
Glaab returned to Prince George for a youth ministry position, working with schools and as the chaplain at the University of Northern B.C. He continued his studies at Newman Theological College and, with the passage of time, the call to the priesthood “evolved along the way.” The Franciscan Friars became the perfect fit.
“Some my professors were Franciscans and they had a big impact on me. It was their simplicity of life and the connection between St. Francis and care for the environment, being stewards of Creation.”
Glaab started his formation with the Franciscans in 2010. For his brothers and sisters, the initial surprise gave way to understanding. For his parents, his decision required some explanation. They thought he was becoming a cloistered monk. “My parents asked if they would be able to see me!”
Glaab was initially assigned to St. Alphonsus Parish in Edmonton and – for the past four years – he’s been in Sherwood Park, ministering in schools and later at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.
Glaab said he knows that he is older than other newly ordained priests, but he accepts that.
“I sense it’s OK in the community and I’m OK with it too. My goal is to be a Franciscan and to contribute where I can,” he said. “It’s a continuation of the journey. Each step is by God’s grace and I’m here because of that.”
Father Glaab is now serving as associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.