Tag Archives: Tampa Bay Chapter

From the big league to God’s team

Tampa chaplain FR. CARL MELCHIOR used to work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . . .

Fr. Carl Melchior

Fr. Carl Melchior

Fr. Carl Melchior
Tampa Bay Chapter

Many people who meet Fr. Carl “Buster” Melchior are surprised when they learn that the 52-year-old priest worked nine years as an assistant equipment manager for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Father Melchior also worked in sports medicine for almost six years until his soul-searching led him to consider the priesthood and enter the seminary in his mid 30s. Ordained six years ago, he currently serves as vocations director for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., and helps young men discern if God has also called them to the priesthood. He spoke to Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant Brian Fraga.

When did you first think you might become a priest?

It was always there. It kind of vanished in high school. I went to college and then worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for nine seasons. I continued to go to Mass. Then when I was around 30, the call to priesthood came back. The Lord kind of let me have football. He basically said, “OK, this is what you want. This is what you’re going to get.” And it wasn’t as fulfilling as I probably thought it was going to be when I was 19 or 20.

As director of the Office of Vocations for the diocese, what do you do?

My role is to promote priestly vocations and to help those men who have discerned to walk through the process of entering seminary, as well as being a liaison for the bishop’s office to the seminary and working with the men who are in formation.

How did you become involved with Legatus?

A year-and-a-half into ordination, Fr. Ken Malley — who was a very good friend of mine, who vested me in my ordination, who was my first pastor — was also a Legatus chaplain. We were at Mass with the bishop, and Fr. Ken said he had prayed about it and that it was time for him to step down as Legatus chaplain. Father Ken looked at me and said, “Would you like to do it? You know everybody. You’d be a good fit.” The bishop looked at me and said, “If you would like it, I’ll appoint you.” And that’s really kind of how it happened.

How would you describe your experience with Legatus?

It’s kind of a parish for me. Legatus members minister to me, and I minister to them. It’s a nice step back from the specific ministry I do with young people discerning their vocation into a different ministry.

Do you have any advice for business leaders?

A business leader, like a seminarian in certain aspects, can lose sight of what they’re called to. So when I think of Catholic business leaders, I think one of my roles is to remind them that the Lord is really leading them. The Lord is guiding them, and the Lord’s hand is present even in those tough times when they have to make a tough business decision.

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

That I spent nine years with an NFL football team and now I’m a Catholic priest. That’s kind of two things people don’t equate together.

I’m still an avid Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan. We have the NFL Draft coming up, a high holy day in my life. The University of Florida Gators and the Bucs are my top teams. I grew up in Tampa, on the bay, so I fished all my life. I still enjoy being out on the bay. I don’t do it quite as much as I would like to. There isn’t a lot of time to relax here.

BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.

Former naval officer delights in priesthood

The Tampa Bay chaplain says his story is one of resistance, but also of surrender . . .

Fr. Kenneth Malley

Fr. Kenneth Malley
Tampa Bay Chapter

During his naval service, Fr. Kenneth Malley studied Russian in California. After leaving the service, he entered the seminary, his studies eventually taking him to Rome. Now the Florida native is planted once again in native soil as pastor of a parish near his boyhood home. As a respite from his parish duties, which occupy him more than ever since the parish kicked-off a capital campaign in January, he enjoys serving as chaplain of Legatus’ Tampa Bay Chapter.

Tell me about your call to the priesthood.

My own journey to the priesthood is a story of resistance, but also fortunately a story of surrender. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, and my parents still live in the same house, which is only eight miles away from my current parish (St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater). I entered the Navy after graduating from high school. My father and my uncle had also served in the Navy, so it was a very easy choice. Later I entered the language program at the Defense Language Institute, learned Russian and served as a linguist from 1984-1988.

After the Navy, I went to college at the University of South Florida. During this time I began to sense the Lord’s beckoning to the priesthood. My own journey is more about resistance and then ultimately towards surrender. I have learned that when I surrender more completely to the will of God, I am able to discover and experience things beyond my wildest imagination.

How did you learn about Legatus?

I was introduced to Legatus by some former parishioners who invited me to one of their gatherings. I was impressed by our local chapter with an incredible group of individuals who had a sincere desire to learn, grow and to serve in the Church.

About two years ago a need arose in the chapter for a new chaplain. At the time my parish was in the process of building a new church. I wasn’t interested in another event to attend. However, I sensed that I was meant to stay with the group, and I was then assigned to the chapter by the bishop.

What appeals to you most about Legatus?

The concept of being an ambassador of faith is attractive to me. In our local group there is a talented group of individuals that I learn a lot from. I often feel that they have more to teach me than I have to teach them. There is always so much more we can learn from each other during our pilgrimage on earth.

What do you enjoy doing for relaxation?

Being born and raised in Florida, the beach has always been a great highlight. I also enjoy kayaking. I did compete in three Florida triathlons, one half-marathon and one full-marathon. However, since I’ve been a pastor I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the training. I still swim regularly and attempt to keep up with some type of training program.

Can you recommend any special devotions?

The devotion to the Infant Jesus has been a gift to me. Some years ago a pastor told me that if you want guidance with your parish finances, ask for the intercession of the Infant Jesus. The journey of faith sometimes seems so complex, but prayer with the Child has brought peace during some complex times. One of the prayers includes these words: “Divine Infant Jesus, I want to give you my hands today. I want to serve you with all my heart and make you known and loved. Doing your will is the source of my inner peace and joy.” This is where I discover peace and joy.