Rev. Doug Taylor didn’t know when he was young that he would someday become a priest, he thought his love of science would lead him down another path.
The new priest at St. John Catholic Church in Defiance admits he was like a lot of young people in high school and college who was trying to find his own path. He was never anti-religion, but during that time in his life, he was drawn to science.
“I think it’s kind of typical for kids in high school and college to develop a bit of disconnect with faith and religion. That’s a time you’re forging out on your own, you’re trying to find your wings, you’re exploring,” said Taylor, who grew up in south Toledo. “I fell in love with science and at that time, I found science was answering my questions. I was curious about science, so science was my focus.
“It wasn’t a choosing to move away from religion, it was a drifting,” added Taylor, a 1983 graduate of Central Catholic High School in Toledo, and a 1987 graduate of Bowling Green State University (BGSU), where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree (major in biology, minor in chemistry).
Following his graduation from BGSU, Taylor went to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., to pursue a graduate degree in oceanography. In 1989, Taylor observed one of his professors was gone for a week, before learning that professor was on a retreat to Medjugorje, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The town is an unofficial place of Catholic pilgrimage since the Virgin Mary appeared there on Apparition Hill in 1981.
“While there, my professor had a conversion experience, and when he came back I found there were some graces to be had,” said Taylor. “He received various graces, made certain prayers and I received some graces. Ultimately, it was a religious realization on my end, and more of a revelation on God’s end. So God put certain things in motion, I responded, and I came to realize that science was not going to answer all my questions.”
Taylor, who grew up in a faithful Catholic household with his parents, Don and Bev, and his siblings, Claudia, Randy, Cindy and Brian, admitted the spiritual awakening felt like a “homecoming.”
“It was a welcomed realization,” said Taylor. “I didn’t feel like God was imposing on me anything I wasn’t already looking for, it was a realization that meaning could be found apart from science, nature, anything in the tangible world. My initial inclination was not for community, but I was brought back to a personal relationship with God, to a prayer life, an interest in the sacraments, and therefore the church. That’s where I found appreciation for community.”
What Taylor also realized was that he needed to discern his path by becoming a seminarian. Living in the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss., he was sent to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, with a “willingness to become a priest, but not so much an eagerness.” During his time in seminary, he discovered an enthusiasm each year of discernment. He also discerned an interest to return to the Diocese of Toledo to finish his journey to the priesthood.
In the fall of 1994, Taylor returned to his roots and was sent to Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus. He earned a Master of Divinity in 1997.
Following ordination, Taylor was sent to the first of his many assignments in the past 23 years, to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay to serve as an associate pastor under Rev. Marty Nasser. While in high school at Central Catholic, Nasser was one of Taylor’s teachers. In addition, Nasser’s first assignment following ordination in 1967 was to St. John Catholic Church in Defiance.
In 2001, Taylor was assigned to St. John the Baptist in Point Place (Toledo), before moving on to St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk from 2003-06. In 2006, Taylor became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in New London, where he stayed for 11 years. In 2017, he moved to St. John’s Catholic Church in Delphos for two years, before moving to full-time hospital ministry at University of Toledo Medical College and St. Luke Hospital.
In February, he was sent to cover an opening at St. Wendelin Catholic Church in Fostoria, before coming to Defiance on July 1. During many of his assignments he came across several colleagues that would go on to serve, or did serve, at Catholic churches in Defiance.
In addition to Nasser, that list includes Rev. Randy Giesige (current pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church whom he worked with at St. Michael’s in Findlay), and Rev. Dennis Walsh and Rev. Todd Dominique (both of whom served as pastor at St. John’s). Taylor also knew of Defiance during his days as a Boy Scout, and during his time studying at BGSU.
“I knew Marty, Dennis and Todd had been here, but I knew about Defiance long ago when my Boy Scout troop came here to Camp Lakota and to the fort grounds,” said Taylor, whose hobbies include marine biology, oceanography, sailing, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, bicycling, golf and bowling. “During my undergraduate days at Bowling Green, I came to appreciate limnology (the study of inland aquatic systems), including the Maumee River.
“When people at St. Wendelin heard I was coming to Defiance, they told me, ‘You’re going to like it there,’ because Todd spoke fondly of it,” added Taylor.
Taylor is excited about his next chapter, and he’s looking forward to getting to know the people of the church. He succeeds Rev. Eric Mueller, who is now pastor at Epiphany of the Lord Parish in Toledo.
“I’ve learned that it takes a lot of teamwork for a parish to work successfully,” said Taylor. “So I come in with a good appreciation for what the rest of the team here does, and the way Father Eric worked with the team. I’m still settling in, but I’m appreciative for the opportunity to get to know the people, and for the people to get to know me.”
Services at St. John’s are Saturdays at 5 p.m., and Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. For more information, call 419-782-7121 or go to stjohndefiance.org.