When some men turn 50, they buy a Ferrari or dye their hair, but the Rev. Bill Moisant joined the seminary.

"I always thought of it since I was in the fourth-grade," he said. "When I turned 50 ... I thought, if I'm going to do this, I better get back to the seminary."

Now 58, Moisant arrived in Astoria in July to work at Saint Mary, Star of the Sea Parish and School.

Moisant grew up attending Catholic schools and attended a seminary for seven years during high school and after. But, he put off becoming a priest, and instead, worked in Child Protection Services and as a clinical social worker. For 12 years, he owned a private practice in the Willamette Valley.

But when he turned 50 in 1995, he couldn't ignore the call anymore. So he commuted three miles to the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary near Silverton. The abbey was founded by Benedictine monks in 1882.

Moisant was ordained in 2001 and has worked at parishes in Milwaukie and Corvallis. Moisant requested placement in a parish with a school and was installed formally in July at Star of the Sea by Vicar General the Rev. Dennis O'Donovan.

After spending the summer adjusting, Moisant is teaching a religion class for the seventh- and eight-grade classes at the school. "They're a lively group," he said.

Moisant said he's hoping to increase the enrollment of the school, which educates 93 students. He said the school has about 10 teachers on staff.

He said some of the teachers aren't Catholic, and some of the students aren't either.

"We want our school to be diverse," he said. "That's the kind of world the children live in."

The school is accredited and costs about $2,400 per year. Moisant said scholarships are available for students and their parents. He said he hopes to increase fund-raising for the school with dinners, bazaars, donations and walk-a-thons.

Moisant said the school is one of two major outreach ministries. The parish also operates a St. Vincent De Paul Society, which provides for the needy in Astoria.

Normally priests spend six years at a parish with the option to renew, Moisant said.

"I'm planted here," he said. "I plan to stay a while ... I hope to have lots of years of work ahead of me," he said.

While working in social work, Moisant visited Astoria occasionally.

"This is vacation land," he said. "I never thought I would ever live here."


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