Father Timothy Cone is our featured priest this month. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Both his parents served in the U.S. Air Force. He is the second youngest, having three sisters and one brother. He was ordained May 31, 2019, and serves as parochial vicar of Holy Cross (Ipswich), St. Thomas the Apostle (Roscoe), Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Leola), St. Michael (Herreid), St. Joseph (Eureka), St. Anthony (Selby) and St. Joseph (Mobridge).
How did you get your call to the priesthood?
I knew from around the time I was about 7 years old that our Lord was calling me to be a priest. In fact, I remember the exact moment. I was at a Sunday Mass at the cathedral out in Rapid City where I grew up. Usually my mom would whisper in my ear the prayers we were supposed to say and when, but this particular Sunday she didn’t. When it came time for the Consecration, when the priest held up the host, I remember thinking, “Okay, I need to pray now.” So I prayed for what seemed like a good while. Then I thought, “Okay, I’m done.” Then the priest went on as normal. But in that moment, it felt as though the priest was waiting for me to finish praying before going on. Something shifted in my heart at that moment. It forever changed my heart, and I knew instantly that our Lord was calling me to do what that priest was doing. As I grew “older and wiser,” I ended up running from the Lord for a while, but I realized that no matter how far I ran from him, he wouldn’t stop pursuing me. Only he could give me the happiness I was looking for. I was made for him.
What did you do before the priesthood?
I was a musician prior to joining the seminary. At the time, my goal was to pursue a master’s degree and doctorate in choral conducting and eventually be the director of choral activities at a major university somewhere. I had previously worked as music director at Sacred Heart Parish in Yankton for a couple of years. I also spent some time out in Buffalo, New York, doing some odd jobs, including working in a jewelry store and, on my days off, substitute teaching in the nearby school district trying to get my foot in the door for a music teacher position.
Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you?
God’s providence! Nothing happens by accident. When you are earnestly desiring to do our Lord’s will for your life, you’re always in the right place at the right time. I heard a priest talk about devotion to the Blessed Trinity on EWTN once, and he said, “When you are devoted to our Lord, you do more purely by accident than anything you actually set out to do.” That has been the story of my life!
Who was most influential in your life?
This is a tough question, but, honestly, I’d have to say it has been the priests that I have had in my life over the years, whether as spiritual directors or as confessors.
What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
Preaching and spiritual direction. I love helping others go deeper in their faith. Nothing gives me more life than being around others who want more of our Lord in their life.
What’s the most challenging thing?
Getting out of my comfort zone. Deacon James Keating gave a talk while I was in seminary, and I’ll never forget what he said: “Your bride will ask for your death … the death of your own ego.” Just as in marriage, husband and wife are called to total self-sacrificial love. The same is true as a priest. My bride is the Church, and she continuously asks for my death, the death of my ego and what I want for her sake. Just as Christ loved the Church and laid his life down for her, I am called to do the same. Though it is not always easy, it is always worth it.
Who is your go-to saint? Why?
I have a crew of them! St. Charbel, Padre Pio, St. Therese, St. Peter and the archangel Raphael. What I love about these guys is that they each have their own particular gifts that they have given to serve our Lord, and they never forget to remind me to just be myself and not anyone else. I don’t have to try to copy their lives, but for me to be as authentically “me” as I can, on fire with the love of our Lord.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a big-time birder! I love birdwatching. I’m always on the lookout for what’s flying around anywhere I go, rain or shine, even in the winter. During the summer, I am also a weather enthusiast. I’ve studied meteorology off and on since I was a kid. I also enjoy playing the violin and watching a good hockey game.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I lived in England for about three and a half years when I was growing up. It was during the most formative language learning years (2-6 years old), so for a good number of years afterward, I had a really thick British accent.
How can your parishioners and people of the diocese best help you be a great priest?
Pray for me and invite me over for a meal or a card game or an event happening in your family. I want to be a part of it. I don’t do well inviting myself over.
If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
The baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi. Most people don’t know that he was also a priest. I would love to ask him about his vocation story. I am also a huge fan of his music, and his violin concertos are my all-time favorite to play.