Timothy Quigley is an actor and filmmaker based in Lancaster. He is the creator and star of the sitcom, “Ordinary”.
First of all, tell me (and my readers) exactly who you are and what you currently do for a living.
I’m Timothy Quigley, cradle Catholic, from a happy family of 10 children happy to keep the Irish-Catholic stereotype alive. I am an actor, a filmmaker and local television producer. Those three jobs keep me quite busy.
I take it there are some Irish twins in your family?
None, as a matter of fact!
So you have a family of your own now. Describe a typical day in your life, balancing your family and the jobs you have.
I have been married for almost 7 years, no children (pregnancies but no births). My wife and I both come from large families and wanted to have one right off the bat, but our Father had other plans. We’ve seen this as a time to find ways of ministering where we might otherwise not be able. My wife, Carolyn, is a nurse who works a number of places but primarily as a school nurse at the local high school, JP McCaskey. Monday through Friday, she’s doing her work and I’m doing mine, touching base with each other regularly. We get up early, get ready for work together, then split up until I come back from the office to go to bed. Saturdays we get housework done and Sundays we chill.
What inspired you to create Ordinary?
The first inkling of an idea came from working around the rectory and observing how similar it was to any other workplace. It started as a joke that NBC’s “The Office” could easily do a spin-off called “The Parish”. Years later I returned to the idea and started to write, but it morphed into something very different than what I thought it would be. I didn’t want to fashion a “Father Michael Scott”, if you will. We have plenty of them elsewhere in visual media, and they’re just not representative of the majority of priests I know. This led to centering the show on the priest and his story. The vocation of the priesthood has always fascinated me, and there’s a lot to work with when your character is in persona Christi, with elements both very human and very divine.
Tell me more of your personal vocation story.
I started discerning the priesthood when I was 10 as an altar boy, attending daily Mass. At that time, the only other thing I wanted to be was an actor, but when I learned that movie and TV actors don’t get to write their own lines or direct the movie/show, I said “Forget it then, I’ll be a priest”. I went to a school in New Hampshire for boys wanting to become priests, run by the Legion of Christ. I was with the Legion for a short time but discerned away from there thinking I was perhaps called to diocesan and parochial life instead of the life of a religious community like the Legion, so I entered diocesan seminary at Saint Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia. It was there that I watched the short film, “Fishers of Men” from Grassroot Films. My friend, with whom I had confided my recent doubts about my vocation, turned to me and said, “Doesn’t that just inspire you to want to be a priest!?” I said, “No, it inspires me to become a filmmaker.” I left seminary in 2006 and started studying the craft. Now I’m an actor who does get to write his own lines and direct his own show. Heh, a show about a priest at that. Everybody wins!
What led you to marriage?
It didn’t take much thought or spiritual agony on my part. In 2007, a year after I left seminary, I met a really cute girl at the Saint Gertrude’s 20s Group in Cincinnati and I asked her out. My first girlfriend! I married her 10 months later. Transitioning from pursuing a priestly vocation to a marital vocation was relatively seamless. Because while I discerned I didn’t have a vocation to the priesthood, I was certain I still had a vocation to fatherhood. My whole life changed when I altered my vocational discernment approach to basically, “Pray and just go with your gut.” There’s way too much vocational analysis paralysis among our young Catholics.
What advice do you have for those who are discerning vocations and struggle with “vocational analysis paralysis”?
I think everyone discerning their vocations understands they were created for a purpose. We know that we each have a unique way we are meant to know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can be happy with Him in the next. That puts pressure on us to make sure we don’t muck this up!! But it’s really not that complicated. Our Father has no interest in making our vocational discovery a PhD in aerospace engineering. (Unless of course he is calling you to be an actual rocket scientist then… yeah.) What He really wants from us is to enter into prayer with Him and stay close to Him. Whatever I am made for is what I am MADE for; it is part of who I am, right there in my gut and will become clearer with prayer. So what is the thing that drives you, motivates you to be the saint you’re called to be? Do that thing. Don’t focus on vocational discernment as a, “What do I feel called to eventually be?” You already know: a saint. Ask instead, “What do I feel called to do today?”
Who are your go-to saints?
The Blessed Mother is number one. I chose the name Mary at my Confirmation. Others I go to regularly are Saint Joseph, Saint Timothy, Saint Raymond Nonnatus. When I’m in the middle of filming, I go to Saint Jude and Saint Rita.
What do advice do you have to young adults who want to pursue a career in film and television? How do you balance your faith and your work?
I can’t speak to the challenges of keeping your faith while working in Hollywood. That’s one avenue some take, but I’ve decided to stay in my lovely hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With the ubiquity of the internet and the low cost and wide accessibility of equipment, there aren’t any good excuses to not just do it. Surround yourself with talented people, which becomes easier the more you do and the more you pay attention to what everyone else is doing. And don’t ever make the mistake of thinking other filmmakers are your adversarial competitors. They’re your allies. One thing that is very cool about our production of the second season of Ordinary is the great team of local filmmakers we’ve assembled. None of them are even Catholic, but they love what they do and they love the show. It’s not worth it to compromise your artistic vision or your religious conviction in an effort to be liked. People value authenticity of character and work that is genuine.
Please donate to the Ordinary Season 2 Kickstarter! Season 1 is available for On-Demand on Vimeo.