.- The newest priest for the Diocese of Memphis studied at the seminary as the sex abuse scandals in the Church in the United States erupted.
But Fr. Richard “Joey” Kaump told the Jackson Sun that during that challenging time he never wavered from his calling to the priesthood.
The 35-year-old member of the Knights of Columbus was ordained Saturday and will serve in his first assignment as associate pastor at St. Louis Church in Memphis.
Prior to entering the seminary, Fr. Kaump repaired air conditioners and volunteered as a youth minister, founding QUEST, a retreat program for teens. He said he believes it takes integrity, prayer, compassion, commitment, honesty and love to be a good priest.
The young man said he realized he wanted to become a priest by reflecting on what made him happy. “The only times I was really happy was when I was volunteering in the church. Whenever I was at church, I was at peace and really happy. I wanted to make it a lifestyle,” he said. “I wanted to grow closer to God and help other people grow closer to God.”
Kaump told how his mother, a non-Catholic, was at first surprised by his decision to become a priest, but both his mother and father encouraged the vocation.