After an over seven-year journey with his faith, Fort Stockton native Timothy Hayter is just days away from his ordination as a Catholic Priest.
Hayter's trek to the seminary began after he finished college and found himself working at First National Bank in his hometown of Fort Stockton. "During my time at the bank, I was able to really participate in the church," recalled Hayter. "I was able to go to daily mass, and to help with readings and the choir. My favorite part of it, though, was helping out with the youth group there."
Following his stint at the bank, Hayter began working with Longfellow Ranch as a business manager. He described his love of the job, saying that he was good at the work and that he enjoyed it. However, it was at this time that Hayter felt something missing in his life. "Though I very much loved working at Longfellow, it did take quite a bit of my time. I couldn't be involved in the church like I was previously," said Hayter. "I continued to ask God what He wanted of me, and the seminary kept popping up."
This inner monologue is what ultimately led to Hayter's decision to attend the seminary and pursue priesthood with the Diocese of San Angelo, which encompasses many local cities including Midland, Odessa, San Angelo, Sanderson, and Fort Stockton. Despite the resounding answer Hayter heard in response to his questions, he said this life-altering decision was something he had to grapple with. "Though I wasn't raised in a home that attended church regularly, I always knew that our family's livelihood relied heavily on God," Hayter said regarding his upbringing. "But I did struggle with this realization for months before finally giving in to God's plan for me."
Once his mind was made up, Hayter made his way to the seminary, where he studied philosophy, theology, and participated in a year-long internship at Holy Redeemer in the neighboring city of Odessa.
Along with his responsibilities at the seminary, Hayter also served at Sacred Heart in Conroe, TX, which he said was particularly interesting. "It was so neat to serve there because it was massive," Hayter detailed. "More people went to that church than there are people who live in Fort Stockton. My favorite thing about this place was that they incorporated the English and Spanish speaking communities smoothly."
In the time Hayter spent at the seminary, he participated in many extraordinary experiences, including teaching Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), helping feed over 300 homeless in Houston, and even organizing the seminary's basketball team, which travelled to Chicago for a tournament.
Hayter said that one of his favorite experiences was that of visiting a juvenile detention center to speak with boys aged from 11 to 17 years old. "You never know what you're going to encounter in there," he cautioned. "But I loved talking to them and helping them reach clarity, or just listening to them so they would have someone."
Now, Hayter has come to find fulfillment in his life and a passion for his work. "Looking back, God has filled in all the gaps I felt in my life before. All the work I do for the church in Jesus's name is life-giving."
Hayter is currently a deacon with the diocese, and has officiated many events, including weddings, funerals, and baptisms, which he said are his favorite. At 10:30 a.m. on June 10, Hayter will be ordained as a priest at the San Angelo Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Angelo. On June 11, Hayter will return to Fort Stockton for a Thanksgiving Mass at St. Agnes Church, also at 10:30 a.m.