Father John Pacheco has been a priest for five years, but really, it’s something he’s thought about for much longer than that. 

He was ordained as a priest for St. Mary Catholic Church on July 1.

Pacheco was born June 2, 1954, in south Fort Worth, to Mary and Adam Pacheco. He and his family lived in a traditional home. His father was the breadwinner and his mother stayed at home to care for him and his brother, Adam, who is eight years his senior. Pacheco attended public school and graduated from R.L. Pascal High School in 1972. At that time, he was unsure of what career path to take after graduation.

“I really didn’t have direction, I’ve got to confess,” he said. “When someone asked me what I wanted to do in life, I thought I would be a lawyer because they make a lot of money. I remember that I kind of wanted to be a priest when I was younger.”

Pacheco went to Tarrant County Junior College and graduated with an associate’s degree in general education in 1975. After that, he enrolled in the University of Texas at Arlington and found a new career path.

“I literally stumbled into law enforcement,” he said. 

Pacheco saw an old friend who informed him of an open position as a public safety officer at TCJC. He applied and got the job, and TCJC sent him to North Texas Police Academy. For three years he worked at TCJC and finished college at UTA in 1983, where he received a bachelor’s degree in communications. 

(Julianne Murrah)

Pacheco worked briefly at the Fort Worth Police Department as a police officer, but felt his job as an officer there didn’t suit his needs. So when a police officer position opened at Texas Christian University, he went for it. He helped rebuild the police force at TCU, and after one year, he was promoted to sergeant. He served as sergeant at TCU for 20 years. Between his previous job at TCJC and TCU, Pacheco has served as an officer for a total of 24 years. 

While Pacheco loved his job at TCU, he said that he would often feel the draw towards becoming a priest. In 1998, he applied to become a priest through the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, but was denied. He continued serving as a sergeant at TCU until his sister-in-law got a phone call in July 2003.

“I didn’t know this, but a dear friend of mine, Monsignor Joe Pimberden, vocation director at the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, told the diocese that they messed up (by denying Pacheco the opportunity into priesthood),” Pacheco said. “My sister in-law got a phone call from the diocese asking if I was interested in becoming a priest, and she said yes.”

Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.