Public eye: Father Jonathan Morris, 39
New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.
Tue Aug 7 2012
Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
Mulberry St between E Houston and Prince Sts
What are you up to? I’m on my way to do a wedding. I have three this weekend.
Can you tell which couples are going to last? Not always. But I think when a couple has something as deep as faith in common, they’re much more likely to know each other better and have strong reasons for staying together. They’re a spiritual team.
Do you get unsolicited confessions when people see your collar? Oh, all the time.
Anything really good? Nothing that I can tell you! But people do ask for help and advice all the time. On my way to JFK the other day, a taxi driver said, “Father, I’m not going to take your money; I’ll accept your prayers instead.” I tried to argue with him, but he would not take the money. This driver had to go all the way back to the city without a fare. And he wasn’t even Catholic.
So next time I need a free ride to the airport, I know what to wear. [Laughs] Yeah. But I think it shows that in the midst of a city that has everything, there is still something missing, and people are searching for it.
How did you become a priest? My college roommate was considering it, and I was the one to take him to the seminary to see it. I ended up staying, while he went back. I’d been dating a girl for two years, and I told him to take care of her—make sure she finished her last year of college. A year later, he came to me and asked if he could ask her out on a date. They got married, and I’ve baptized all their kids.
Whoa. Any regrets about all you gave up? Children and marriage are beautiful, but I also am very happy doing what I’m doing and being of service to other people. I’m a priest in residence here at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, but my full-time job is director of the Catholic channel on SiriusXM Radio.
There are a lot of gay atheists who will be reading this, you know. Sure, sure. I think real diversity means being open to people of all backgrounds, and dialoguing. And I love doing that.
More from Father Morris
“I don’t wear this collar when I’m surfing.”