Fr. Nathan Siray “Thirty Years In A Nutshell”
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Fr. Nathan for our website! As some of you may have already experienced, he is a gentle person with a quiet sense of humor and a deep spirituality. I discovered that he has many diverse talents and interests! I also discovered that he really likes sushi! He is enjoying the opportunity to serve at All Saints Parish and to get to know us and share his love of Jesus!
Question: Siray is an interesting name – what are its origins?
Fr. Nathan: Siray is Hungarian and my grandfather came to Canada from Hungary. We think the spelling of Siray probably was changed when he came to Canada – it may have had a “j” or “ii” in it. My grandfather was five when he came to Canada and never kept close ties to Hungary so I don’t know a lot about that part of my history.
Question: Where were you born?
Fr. Nathan: I was born in Calgary, but my family moved to Turner Valley when I was less than a year old. My dad is a doctor and he went to Black Diamond to help set up a new clinic there and start his medical practice. When I was five we built a house in Millarville and that is where I grew up. I am the oldest of four boys. Mom is a teacher but stayed at home with us as we were growing up. My younger brothers are Adam, who is a dentist in Calgary. He is married to Stephanie and has a little girl (Ava). She is teaching us about girls after our all-boy family! Next is Justin, who is finishing his B.Ed. at UBC and then Matthew who is finishing a B.Sc. in Biology at UBCO in Kelowna.
I did my kindergarten to grade six in Millarville and then went to the Catholic school in Okotoks for grade seven through twelve. We loved living in Millarville! It was small and quiet with lots of space and we grew up loved and happy!!
Question: How did you decide upon becoming a priest?
Fr. Nathan: At first I wanted to be a doctor like my dad – I wanted to help people. In our small Catholic community, my brothers and I were always the Altar Servers at Mass. When I was 14, I went to Paris to the World Youth Day. I was at that stage where I was really wondering about my faith and questioning. We went to Lourdes which was a very moving experience. I spent time in high school trying to discern what I would do with my life, like most teens! I was strong at English, History and Religion and became interested in church history and thought a lot about the idea of what faith really meant amongst all the other issues that occupy the teenage mind! My God-parents are both doctors in Lethbridge and, when they had the opportunity to travel to Nepal, I saved up and went with them! The simplicity of life in the mountains of Nepal was so amazing! The people were so happy and they had very little! I had so much and wasn’t as happy as they were! As Buddhists, their faith life is so external – they have shrines and they really live their faith! This left a strong impression on me!
I decided to go to McGill University and study medieval history. I shared an apartment with some students from Kenya and one of them invited me to go to daily Mass with him – and after some hesitation I started going regularly. One day after Communion, I had a quiet ‘a-ha!’ moment and realized that I might be called to the priesthood! I explored this idea for a year with my priest and found that the call became strong. I went to Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon to finish my B.A. in Philosophy and I loved living next to the monastery with its life of prayer and music (I love Gregorian chant)! I then went on to St. Augustine’s Seminary to study Theology at the University of Toronto. As a seminarian, I spent a year in Taber and Vauxhall learning about parish life and really enjoyed that. I was ordained a Deacon on May 15, 2010 St. James Parish in Okotoks and then ordained as a Priest on June 11, 2011 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Calgary. I was the Associate Pastor at St. Michael’s in Calgary for the past two years and learned much as I watched the Parish grow and change!
Question: What do you love most about being a priest?
Fr. Nathan: I love celebrating the Mass! All the sacraments are special, but the Mass is wonderful!
Question: What is the biggest challenge you face as a priest?
Fr. Nathan: It requires great courage to be present to parishioners who are hurting from loss, like families during a funeral of a loved one. It also takes courage to be present to people who are angry at the Church or experiencing other difficult times in their lives.
Question: What do you like to do when you are not ‘at work’?
Fr. Nathan: I learned to ski at the age of two and snowboard at 13. I love to snowboard!! I also really enjoy camping, hiking, climbing – anything you can do in the mountains! I have played soccer but not really any other team sports. I’ve even learned a bit about being a DJ! I enjoy many different types of music. I love to read – history, fantasy, spiritual books. Evelyn Waugh and JRR Tolkien are my favorite authors. I have been blessed to do lots of travelling and have travelled most of Canada (except the Territories), in the U. S., Jamaica, France, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Nepal, Singapore and Thailand.
Question: Is there something you would like to do that you haven’t done yet?
Fr. Nathan: My brothers and I would like to go skiing in Northern Japan! There is a lot of snow there but not many people go there to ski.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Fr. Nathan: I and two other priests have a website where we post homilies and other spiritual items. The link to this website is on the new AllSaintsLethbridge.org website. We want to be able to evangelize and reach as many people as we can! I also use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for evangelization. I think St. Paul is a bit jealous of all the tools we now have to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ!