Rich Beyond Measure: Meet the Priest Who Could Have Been a Millionaire

Rich Beyond Measure: Meet the Priest Who Could Have Been a Millionaire July 11, 2019

A remarkable vocation story from Arkansas Catholic: 

While everyone has to discern their life’s path, most have not had as drastic a fork in the road as Father Phillip Reaves — sacrificing self to serve the Lord or being a millionaire.

He was destined to be an accountant for an oil company his father’s cousin was starting. About seven or eight years ago, after selling off an oil lease, each of his cousin’s children received $1 million after taxes.

“I said, ‘Hey, where’s my million? I thought I was one of your kids?’ He said, ‘Well, if you hadn’t left the company and gone into the seminary you would have got a part.’ I could be a millionaire now,” Father Reaves said with a laugh.

Admittedly he wouldn’t mind having a million dollars, but celebrating his 25th jubilee of priestly service has been worth it.

“I’m happy as a priest … and I love what I’m doing now,” he said…


…Father Reaves attended the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, rooming a semester with Father Mark Wood, and earned an accounting degree. He was an accountant in Fort Smith and then a sales and service representative for oil field equipment in Casper, Wy. While driving across the South Pass, he contemplated a Knights of Columbus meeting the night before where the knights were told if they knew anybody who would be a good priest to encourage them to discern.

“I was the only single guy in the room and no one said a word. And I just thought well I don’t need them to,” he said, adding “I’ll never know unless I find out, unless I give it a try.”

He entered the seminary in 1985 at 24 years old, but Diocese of Little Rock Bishop Andrew J. McDonald later made the heartbreaking decision to not allow him to continue priestly studies because he has epilepsy, with fears that he’d suffer a seizure alone in a rectory or while driving.

“I was just like, ‘Gee, what am I going to do?’ From that point it was devastating. I could have gone back to Wyoming and worked in the oil field,” he said.

On July 20, 1989, he underwent brain surgery, developed only six years prior, to remove one-third of his right temporal lobe.


Read it all. Ad multos annos! 

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