Getting to Know Our School Chaplain, Fr. Nicholas Reynolds, OP
06 Dec, 2023
A Georgia native, born in Savannah and later transplanting to St. Simons Island, Father Nicholas Reynolds, SAA and SDS School Chaplain, believes he may have been drawn to the priesthood as early as second grade.
A lover of science, by 4th grade he boldly declared he was going to be a priest and a scientist! He actually accomplished both, graduating from Furman University in Greenville, SC with a degree in Physics and later the Aquinas Institute of Theology with both a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Divinity degree.
We have been blessed to have Fr. Nicholas join our campus this year, and now that he is settled in, we’d like you to get to know a little more about him.
Talk about your journey to becoming a priest.
I first became interested in the priesthood when I was in 2nd grade. I started to memorize all the different prayers and responses of my pastor. I would play “Mass” with crackers and my ceramic chalice filled with cranberry juice. I know it’s not grape, but it’s what I had to work with.
And then…high school happened. Needless to say, I became very focused on my academic pursuits and my life of faith became nothing more than a cultural act I did every Sunday. It wasn’t until college at Furman University when I met a Franciscan friar and priest, Fr. Patrick Tuttle, OFM. That man exuded joy! He found meaning and fulfillment in the simple things. I saw a man who owned very little and worked hard but was always filled with joy.
On the other hand, I had everything I could ask for. I didn’t have to worry about tuition being paid for out of my own pocket. I had excellent grades, but for some reason life wasn’t as meaningful or fulfilling. After his encouragement, I joined a Catholic Community of students. I participated in the sacraments and helped out at the Franciscan parish and school. He and so many other priests poured out their lives for me, staying up late at night answering questions or having lunch with me.
I found out I was more fulfilled and joyful in giving and sharing my gifts than seeking my own success or achievements. I decided I wanted to be a priest because God had given me so much. Giving back my life in return seemed like a small thing to what God had given to me.
What is it like to be a part of the Dominican community?
Being in the Dominican community is like being in a family. It is a family. We support one another, and we challenge one another. We cook together, laugh together, joke with each other. The best thing is that we pray together every day. Sometimes I just need space to myself in my room, but the great grace is that we are growing and loving together.
What is your favorite thing about being a priest?
I love participating in the life of the sacraments, and I really enjoy faith formation, teaching, and preaching.
What about your partnership with the school brings you joy?
Everything! It’s hard to pick. The students are always so joyful, and I look forward to my high fives after Mass. The teachers are warm and welcoming, and it has been a joy, when I have been able, to have lunch with them.
What do you believe is the role of education in growing closer to God?
St. Thomas Aquinas, the famous philosopher and theologian, and also our Dominican brother, says that we cannot love what we don’t know. I love the deep red or the fiery orange colors on the trees this time of year, but I couldn’t love these fall colors on the trees unless I have known them through my own experience.
Education is all about handing on what we know to others and instilling a deeper desire to know more. To know about the world through the looking glass of the actions of history, to the discovery of beauty in the arts, or to marvel at the complexity of life in biology, to know these things is to honor the God who underlies it all.
To know what is present before us is to know in some small way, the God who made all things. Education should wrap us in mystery. This is not a mystery which should dissuade us from knowing more, but a mystery that should draw us to it and give us courage that we can never be fully satiated here and now, but that we always hunger for God through what he gives us.
What is one thing you really want our students to know?What matters in life isn’t so much the successes you achieve, how much money you make, or the number of friends you have, it’s about the character of the person you grow to be.
You are new to Memphis, what do you like best about it so far?I love going on my walks down by the Memphis River parks. I love being close to the water again.
There are few questions our students always want answered!
What is your favorite . . .
. . . color? Green has always been my favorite color since I was 4 years old. If you want to know why, it’s because I loved the original green Power Ranger in 1994, and it has been my favorite color ever since!
. . . sports team? For college sports, I am a Georgia Bulldog fan. For professional teams, I like the Atlanta Falcons football team. I am also a Detroit Red Wings fan, since my cousins in Michigan introduced me to hockey.
. . . food? My favorite food is the one that is right in front of me! I am not a picky eater, but I love Mexican and Thai food. However, a good medium-rare Filet Mignon is always a great option.
. . . book? I love non-fiction or sci-fi books. Right now, I’m working on the Dune series and the Lord of the Rings books. Is it too nerdy if I admit my favorite book is my physics textbook? I like to do problems for fun, just to test my brain? LOL
. . . hobby? Aside from the cliché, I really do like to take long walks, and since I have lived on the coast most of my life, I enjoy long walks on the beach. It’s the best place to clear one’s mind as you just listen to the waves crash on the shore. I enjoy other forms of exercise too. I like to ride my bike, and back in the day when my joints were better, I really liked powerlifting. I like to write and journal, and just put down my thoughts. I like video games. Particularly, I enjoy games that have a story and strategy. I enjoy board games for strategy purposes too.
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