Phyllis Sizemore, Mother of David Sizemore, Pastor St. John Neumann parish, Sunbury Ohio, Parish Priest in the Columbus Diocese since 1996.
Phyllis said she can’t imagine her son doing anything else.
“I never prayed for him to be a priest. I just prayed that all my kids would stay in the church, have good spouses, live a good life, be good people, good citizens and just be happy, but David loves every part of his vocation.”
As a child, David was very involved in his parish, Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, as an altar server and lector, while helping out with events such as the parish festival.
After graduating high school, David went to Ohio University as a Business major, where he dated and enjoyed being an ordinary college kid.
“The thought about the priesthood probably crossed his mind earlier than college, but he never mentioned it to me,” said Phyllis.
After a few years away at college, David came home and informed his family that he was being called to the priesthood.
He enrolled at the Josephinum Pontifical College for the remainder of his college education, majoring in Philosophy. Then Bishop Griffin sent him to the North American Pontifical College Seminary in Rome for four years to earn two graduate degrees in theology.
David’s Dad, Bill, was not Catholic, but was very supportive of David throughout the entire seminary process, said Phyllis. He told David, “Whatever it takes to make you happy.”
David, like most seminarians, had some doubts about his calling throughout seminary, even while studying in Rome, but there were many signs that God was calling him to the vocation of the priesthood.
“I think God sent David some pretty clear signs about his vocation, some small miracles,” said Phyllis.
While in his last year of seminary in Rome, David’s Dad was very ill. David prepared to leave Rome and head back to Ohio to be with his Dad, when a friend invited him to help out at a local soup kitchen. They celebrated Mass there and David offered prayers for his Dad.
After Mass, David was summoned to a back room to meet someone. That someone turned out to be Mother Teresa; she greeted him, sitting atop of an orange crate. She motioned for David to join her on another orange crate to talk.
They talked for about 15 minutes about his calling to the priesthood and about David’s Dad. Mother Teresa promised to pray for both of them.
David said that he felt such awe in her presence.
As they parted, Mother Teresa reached up and pulled David’s head down (he is about 6’ 3” and she was less than 5’) and kissed him on the cheek. She handed him a handful of Miraculous Medals and a special medal for his Dad.
By the time David left Rome, he knew he was indeed called to the priesthood.
David was also able to be with his Dad back in the states, in their home, when David’s Dad died.
“That was another sign of God’s love for him,” said Phyllis. “David’s ride to the airport was running late, and if he had left on time, he would not have been by Bill’s side when he died.”
David became a priest in 1996. It didn’t take long for him to discover that he had a “calling within a calling” to minister to the youth.
“He loves speaking with the youth – high school and college kids. He shares his experiences. He is very open and the kids love it. There are a few men in his parish discerning a vocation, and they have been inspired by David. David loves every aspect of the priesthood and it shows.”
Phyllis also loves that David has a lot of friends who support him in his vocation.
“David has a great sense of humor and lots of friends and lots of priest friends and they help each other out.”
In reflecting on the role of family for a priest, Phyllis says:
“It is true that priests give up a wife and family, but they really have two families – their parish and their actual family. And we all do enjoy spending time together.”
“David lives alone, as some priests do now, but he isn’t lonely. He needs that time to relax, read, and watch TV. He has a very full, rounded life and needs some time to himself.”
How has Phyllis changed spiritually since David became a priest?
“I am more involved with the Church and I have a greater appreciation for the Eucharist.”
The key to happiness in the priesthood according to David’s Mom?
“Balance. David has so many people around him that love him and help him. Priests need to ask lay people to help them. People are honored to help. Priests can’t do it all in a parish on their own. They need to delegate.”
Phyllis believes with all her heart that: “David is doing what he loves and what God wants him to do.”