Called by name
This month (in our February newsletter), we share reflections from Father Ross Tozzi: the parish priest of Nome’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, the president of KNOM’s board of directors, and a former KNOM volunteer.
Fr. Ross shares what’s kept him coming back to Nome through the decades:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name: you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b) In 1987, two years before I ever set foot in Alaska, I heard the voice of the Lord calling me. It was a simple, quiet whisper to, “Join the JVC.” As a result of that call, I left a career in the Army to become a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and wound up as a disc jockey for KNOM in Nome.
“Bring back my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth: all who are called by my name I created for my glory; I formed them, made them.” (Is. 43:6b–7). When my three years as a volunteer came to an end in 1992, I left town thinking I might never return. But each summer, hearing my name called, I returned to volunteer my time and talents. During the summer of my fifth return visit to Nome, Bishop Michael Kaniecki, SJ surprised many with the announcement that I would enter the seminary to begin studies for the priesthood. During summer breaks from the seminary, I was called back to Nome again and again.
On KNOM’s 30th anniversary (in 2001), I was ordained a priest at Saint Joseph Church in a Mass broadcast throughout Western Alaska. I left Nome once again, not knowing if I would ever return. Eight years later, the words of the Hail Mary were on my lips as a small bush airline returned me to Nome as the new pastor of Saint Joseph Church. I am also responsible for 3 additional parishes in Western Alaska, the farthest being 183 miles north of Nome. Even while I am in far away Nome, my parishioners can tune into KNOM and hear my voice calling them by name.