Father Christian Moore said he knew from the age of 4 that he wanted to be a priest. He had an aunt who was a nun, three uncles who were priests, and a cousin who was a bishop.
It was just in me; I’ve always been drawn to faith”, he said.
It’s in my bones.
And not just any type of priest, if you please, but a missionary. “I wanted to go to Africa,” he said. But as he approached the end of 8th grade at St. Bridget School in Louisville in the spring of 1949, he realized there was a significant obstacle to realizing his dream.
“I had done poorly in grade school,” he said recently, suppressing a chuckle.
The Maryknoll fathers, one of Catholicism’s great missionary orders, were not impressed by his academic record. They rejected his application to their minor seminary.
But Father Christian had friends in high places. Or, more accurately, a close relative in the right place.
His father, a civil engineer, supervised the construction of a lake at Mount St. Francis, in the bottomland at the foot of the hill on which the seminary buildings sat. In that role, C. Fred Moore worked closely with Fr. Albert Leis at the time rector at the Mount.
The elder Moore’s company had agreed to do the project at cost, to make it more affordable for the friars.
“So, Fr. Albert owed my father a favor,” said Father Christian, another chuckle bubbling to the surface.
C. Fred Moore confided to Fr. Albert his son’s aspirations and wondered if there might be a place for him in that fall’s freshman class at the Mount.
“My dad asked Fr. Albert to give me a chance,” Father Christian said. “He said if it didn’t work out, at least I would have tried.”
But once he enrolled at the Mount, a remarkable thing happened: Fr. Christian proved to be an eager and able student. And his suddenly stellar performance became the rule, not the exception.
He excelled at the Mount and beyond. “I was a good student at the Mount, and motivated through college, seminary and graduate school,” he said.
His academic credentials today include master’s degrees in history and sociology from the University of Minnesota, and in theology from Assumption Seminary, and a doctorate in ministry from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.
He never made it to the mission fields, but he’s done just about everything else for the Franciscans. He’s been a teacher, campus minister, chaplain, and – for the past 35 years – a parish priest. Since 2002, he’s been pastor at Incarnation Parish in Louisville.
He just turned 82 in January and shows no signs of slowing down.
“Studies have shown that people who retire early don’t live as fulfilling and long lives,” Fr. Christian offered in explanation for his longevity.
Even though the Mount wasn’t in his original plan, the place proved to be pivotal in his formation as a priest. As a student, he loved the small classes, warmed to Franciscan discipline, and bloomed under the guidance of role models like Fr. Vincent Gottbrath, at the time prefect. “He was a real fatherly type fellow, correcting us, but always with patience,” Fr. Christian said.
There’s nothing better than bringing people to be in love with God,
After ordination, he returned to the Mount as a teacher and later became principal – the school’s last before it closed in 1975.
Father Christian has known the Mount as a young boy, a student, a teacher, and principal, as a leader of adult and youth retreats, and has loved all of it.
It’s fitting and comforting, he says, that his final resting place will at the Mount, too, beneath the circle of stones in the friars’ cemetery.
“The Mount made me, and I am so grateful for what I got there,” he says. “For me, that is sacred ground.”