Philip Mayer was raised in a devout Protestant family that gave him a love of the Scriptures, yet in denomination with strong anti-Catholic, fundamentalist tendencies. In middle school he competed at the local, regional, and even state level in what was known as Junior Bible Quiz, a fast pasted competition in which kids are taught to instantaneously quote scriptures and answer questions about their Bible based faith. As a teenager he began memorizing entire books of the Bible and competing against his peers from around the state. He was well prepared to attempt to undermine the faith of the average Catholic and perhaps lead him to salvation.

Philip (in the back with a white t-shirt) along with parents and siblings.

Yet, even in the midst of his at times, misguided zeal, God was at work, laying the groundwork so that one day, using in part the very Scriptures that he loved, he would discover the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church. As a young boy he received an undoubtable calling to be ordained. Then during college, while studying to be a pastor, he took his first serious step away from fundamentalism and toward a sacramental and historic understanding of the faith. He attended Mass at an Episcopal Church and was struck by the beauty of the liturgy, an experience that reminded him of God’s majesty and mystery: a fully robed choir singing ancient hymns, a beautiful, turn-of-the-century church building, incense, and stained glass. He would go on to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2008 and begin the process of turning around a struggling mission parish, but then discovered that theological cracks ran through the foundation of the Episcopal Church. Thankfully, by God’s grace through a series of events that included other Catholic converts, as well as his own study into church history and theology, he and his wife found themselves drawn by the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church and so they were received into the Catholic Church by Father Ken Malley at St. Timothy in Lutz in 2012.

Fr. Philip saying Mass as an Episcopal priest

Since that time, Philip had been moving through a process called the Pastoral Provision which was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1980 to allow Episcopal priests who had come into the Church to be ordained as married Roman Catholic priests. During that time of training, formation, and discernment, with the help of the local ordinary, Bishop Parkes, and Msgr. Toups, the rector of St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, as well as others, he came to realize that God was calling him to ordination, not as a priest in the local diocese, but as a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He had been asked by the Ordinariate to begin gathering together those in the Tampa Bay area who are interested in having an Ordinariate parish in the Tampa Bay area, both former Protestants as well as cradle Catholics who have a heart for unity or simply those that enjoy the Ordinariate liturgical tradition. Once there were at least ten people/three families gathered, Ordinariate Bishop Steven J. Lopes will, Philip hoped, officially establish a community for Tampa Bay and begin preparations for Philip’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood so that he could say Mass for the community and begin the work needed to bring the mission to parish status. However, with news that in order to continue to continue to discern a vocation to the priesthood he would need to move, he realized that he would not be able to be part of working for the establishment of an Ordinariate parish in the Tampa Bay area.

Philip is happily married to Melissa, a certified natural birth instructor and doula. Together they are the proud parents of Peter and Joseph. As a family they have a heart for encouraging healthy marriages and are involved in Teams of Our Lady, a global movement supporting spiritually strong marriages. They enjoy friends and family; exploring the natural beauty of God’s creation from the shore, hiking trail, and canoe; as well as reading and finding deals at garage sales.