Bishop Ryan High School, in Minot, has a new chaplain. The Rev. Jadyn Nelson was just ordained as a Catholic priest in May and began working with teenagers from Ryan this summer during the annual pilgrimage to Rome.
"They threw me into the fire," he said with a laugh. "Isn't it wonderful?"
Nelson, from Dickinson, graduated from high school in 2003 and had started a pre-pharmacy program at North Dakota State University in Fargo when his life took a twist.
The Rev. Jadyn Nelson, the new chaplain at Bishop Ryan High School, poses in the chapel at the school.
Nelson recalls that he felt a strong vocation for the priesthood because of "the encounter that I had with our Lord" when he began participating in the perpetual adoration held at St. Mary's Cathedral in Fargo during his college years. It was then that he knew he was meant to be a priest and decided to enter the seminary, during his third year at the university. He completed his degree in humanities at NDSU and then spent the following four years studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Nelson said he knew last October that he would be assigned to be the new chaplain at Ryan and would be an associate pastor at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Minot when he was ordained. The Rev. Justin Waltz, who is now the pastor at St. Leo's, was the previous chaplain at Bishop Ryan.
"Father Justin has a great program in place (at Ryan)," said Nelson, who said he doesn't plan to make any major changes at the school.
Seniors serve as assistant chaplains at the school and help organize things such as "The Rock" three times a year. "The Rock" draws young Catholics from the school and kids from the surrounding communities. It features religious speakers, fun activities and other events that draw youth closer to God. The assistant chaplains also help with Mass and other events.
Nelson teaches a class on morality to the 11th graders and says Mass four times a week for the younger students. He is looking forward to getting to know all of the children at the school.
Bishop Ryan students also do community service projects in the community. This week the entire senior class helped clean up the buildings at Hope Village in preparation for closing the site for the winter.
Service projects are important, but Nelson said his main job is to help the kids grow their faith.
"I want to help them discover the living God," said Nelson.