Seminary names Human Formation director

Archbishop William Skurla has appointed Father Joel Barstad, of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix, as the new director of Human Formation of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pa. The appointment is effective July 1.

Having been appointed to the Seminary faculty in Dec. 2016, Father Joel now makes use of his extensive formational background to serve as the head of the Seminary’s human formation pillar and as the prefect of seminarians.

Father Joel, M.A. Catholic University of America, Ph.D. University of Notre Dame, was raised in the Scandinavian Lutheran tradition where he developed a love for sung liturgy and the richness of a liturgical calendar.

As a result of his encounter with the writings of the Greek Fathers during college, he and his wife Leslie were led into the Catholic Church in 1985. The fascination with the Christian East drew them further in until they decided in 1994 to make the Byzantine Catholic Church their canonical home.

As a boy in the Lutheran church, Father Joel heard the call to serve the Lord Jesus and his Church in pastoral ministry, but as a Catholic the path to the priesthood was not cleared until 2014 when Pope Francis lifted the remaining restrictions on the ordination of married men in the Eastern jurisdictions.

Nonetheless, Father Joel was offered ways to put his gifts as a teacher at the service of the Church and its ministry. Since 2002, he has been a full-time faculty member at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo. In 2015, he was appointed Academic Dean at Saint John Vianney.

With his recent ordination to the priesthood in Oct. 2018 and his appointment as Director of Human Formation at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, he is excited to add a more pastoral dimension to his work, and especially to serve men preparing for the priesthood in the Byzantine tradition. Father Joel and Pani Leslie have raised seven children and take delight in their grandchildren, whose number is steadily growing.