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From fighter pilot to faith fighter

Fr. Scott Traynor

Fr. Scott Traynor

Growing up in Minnesota, Fr. Scott Traynor dreamed of becoming a Navy fighter pilot. He attended Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship and seemed destined for a military career until one summer, while volunteering at a Bible camp, he realized he had never asked God what His plan was for his life. Father Traynor, 43, went on to be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., in 2000. Today, he serves as rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. He’s an author, retreat master, and spiritual director for priests, seminarians and lay people. He spoke to Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

How did your love for Jesus Christ and His Church begin?

In my sophomore year in college, I started dating a very devout Catholic girl. I also met other Christians who were involved in their faith. I was really drawn to their joy. I started reading scripture and taking a little time each day to pray, to take time to talk to God about my day.

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I ended up volunteering at a Young Life Bible Camp in Detroit Lakes, Minn. I woke up on one morning and I had three things on my mind. The first was: God has a plan for my life. The second was: That plan is how I’m going to be the happiest in my life. And the third was: I’ve never bothered to ask God what His plan was for my life. I was very convinced of these truths.

How did you discern a call to the priesthood?

I spent a year doing missionary work with National Evangelization Team Ministries. I stayed with many amazing Catholic host families as we were traveling. I found myself one day asking God to raise up outstanding priests for these wonderful families — and I clearly heard in my heart the Lord say, “I want you to be my priest.”

My first reaction was: “That’s not something I want to do.” I had an aversion to it, but I just told God, “If you want me to be a priest, give me the desire, and I’m there.” I just kept praying that way and God changed my heart. He gave me a very strong desire to pursue the priesthood.

How did you come to be affiliated with Legatus?

My first personal encounter was when I was invited to speak to the Twin Cities Chapter. I really enjoyed doing that and learning more about the organization. Then when I came to Denver to be the rector of the seminary, my predecessor had been the chaplain of the Denver Chapter, and the archdiocese thought it would be best to have me take over as chaplain and continue that great relationship between the seminary and Legatus.

What value do you think Legatus has in the life of the Church?

Legatus members are very successful businesspeople who desire within their vocations and their business lives to live out their Catholic faith seriously. What I love about Legatus is that gives its members an opportunity to be together and be formed — and to help each other live out their faith more deeply. As I get to know the members more, and hear their stories, it’s very inspiring to see how God has worked in their lives.

What is something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

I was born to an unwed college student. My birth mom placed me for adoption at birth. My mom and dad adopted me and two other children. Because of that, I have a great love for Catholic Charities and the great work they do in adoptions.

BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.