Fr. John Zagarella, pt. 4: priesthood

As the month of November winds down, I’ll say goodbye for now, but leave you with a final reflection on my 30 plus years as a Norbertine priest. The years have been filled with many different ways to bring the charism of Norbert of Xanten to the people of God. I continue to be dedicated to discovering new and life giving ways to bring his spirit of peace, concord, healing and reconciliation into my ministry. Let’s pray for one another. If you have any questions for me, please contact me. In the meantime, have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving. May the upcoming Season of Advent bring you joy.

Sincerely,
Fr. John Zagarella, O.Praem.

Fr. John Zagarella, pt. 3: Vestition

Welcome Back, Readers:
So my story continues with my Vestition on August 28, 1979, my 21st birthday!  After a truly wonderful Affiliate experience, I was now vested in the white habit of the Norbertine Community.  I don’t think I’m too far off the mark when I say that entering a canonical novitiate was a very unique way to celebrate a 21st birthday!  My years in Formation were met with many opportunities and many challenges.  But above all, those years were a time to grow in love and knowledge of the Community to which I was more and more deeply committing myself. 

I realize now that I am older the gift that I was given back then. Simply put, being schooled in the lives our Fathers Norbert and Augustine long ago has given me the blueprint for living my life today; the decisions I make, the paths I choose and the goals I aspire to must first be grounded in reflecting on them both: what would Jesus do? What would Augustine do? What would Norbert do?

Have a great week.  See you soon for reflections on ordination and my experiences as a Norbertine priest.
Blessings,
Fr. John

Fr. John Zagarella, pt. 2: Affiliate period

Hello, Folks. As I promised last week, I’ll continue my Vocation story with my entrance into our Affliate Program. In those days, we lived in a house no longer on the Abbey grounds called Emmaus. I lived there for a year with another Affiliate and our Director, Fr. Thomas Rossi. It was a great experience! We had a terrific opportunity to get to know the Order up close and personal, and at the same time, have enough “space” to continue our process of discernment.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was hearing the Vocation stories of many of the Professed members of the Community. I loved hearing the ways God’s call came to each man in different ways through different people, places and event, yet all were called to Daylesford Abbey. Until next week, keep listing for God’s call in your life!

Blessings,
Fr. John

Introducing Fr. John Zagarella

Greetings! I’m Father John Zagarella, O.Praem, and I’ll be on this Vocation Blog through the month of November. There are many aspects of my life as a Norbertine to highlight, but for me, the best place to start is at the beginning.

What drew me into the Order was my experience with the Norbertines as a student from 1972-1976 at Bishop Neumann High School in South Philadelphia. What I saw as a teenager were so many examples over my four years at Neumann of these guys who were down to earth, approachable and friendly with us as students and with each other. They truly seemed to like one another and enjoy working together. That spoke volumes to me, and made me want to know more about this Community of priests and brothers.

I eventually spent several weekends at Daylesford on Vocation Discernment retreats. Those were truly great experiences. It was so powerful experiencing the daily life of a Norbertine! So it was very easy for me to make my decision when I thought that religious life was indeed the Lord’s desire for me. I eventually made application to the Order and entered our Affiliate Program in the summer of 1978. What a terrific year that was living with Fr. Tom Rossi, O.Praem. at a house that was then on Daylesford’s property that we called Emmaus.

I’ll be back the week of November 7th with snippets of life as an Affiliate. In the meantime, I would really encourage anyone who may be thinking that religious life is where the Lord is leading you to come and spend a weekend with us. We would love to host you. Have a great week ahead! Be safe.

Blessings,
Fr. John