Featured “Friar”: Father Justin Bolger, O.P.
by Sydney Olinger ’23
Father Justin Bolger, O.P., works within faith formation ministries at Providence College. He is also involved in music ministries as he has a background in various types of music. As an assistant chaplain, Fr. Justin also helps to serve the wider campus community and provide for the spiritual needs of the students, faculty, and staff.
Though his faith plays an important role in his life, music is an early passion of Fr. Justin’s. His love for music came in the form of both singing and songwriting. Shortly after finding this passion, he signed a record deal with his sister, Maggie. He recorded, toured, and wrote music with her for a period of time. Aside from just recording, touring, and writing, he found a way to connect his two passions: faith and music. Fr. Justin and his sister also played music for masses, youth retreats, and other religious events, which helped him imagine what his next journey might be.
Fr. Justin received his master’s degree in philosophical studies at Mount St. Mary’s University. While obtaining his master’s, he worked as the director of music ministry there, continuing to pursue his love for music. After his time at Mount St. Mary’s, Fr. Justin entered the Order of Preachers. In May 2020, he was ordained a priest, eight years after becoming a Dominican. Though it was an exciting moment meant to be celebrated after a long journey, Fr. Justin’s ordination was a fairly small event due to COVID-19 regulations. Despite the small affair, he realized it was not the celebration that truly mattered, but instead the experiences to come.
Fr. Justin has worked in a variety of different ministries, both as an ordained priest and as a student brother. Some of these include campus ministry, prison ministry, helping the homeless, and, of course, music ministry. His desire to help others both inside and outside of the PC community demonstrates how much it means for Fr. Justin to act as a servant leader.
As a Dominican, Fr. Justin has helped record music specifically for music ministry. He has recorded four albums of sacred choral music and two albums of bluegrass/gospel music with his band, The Hillbilly Thomists. Students and faculty may remember members of The Hillbilly Thomists serenading the community from a golf cart in the fall of 2020.
“I love the fraternity of the Dominican Order—we live, pray, eat, study, and minister together,” said Fr. Justin.
Growing up in a big family, it was not a huge adjustment for him to join the Dominican family here at PC. Fr. Justin was born in Baltimore and raised in Frederick, MD, alongside six siblings. Within his big family, his brother also decided to follow Christ and join the priesthood; he is currently a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Something Fr. Justin carries with him is the Dominican Order’s charism “to contemplate and share with others the fruits of contemplation.” He acknowledges that this is an important part of the Order, as well as the priesthood, and it is something the friars practice each and every day, studying and sharing the truth as a way of life.
Fr. Justin also thoroughly enjoys the time he spends with students on campus and loves to work with them. “I hope to help lead them in their pursuit of truth. Most of all I hope to lead them closer to Jesus, who is truth personified,” stated Fr. Justin.
As a friar and a very faithful person, he loves spreading his knowledge of the Catholic faith and helping students to become active members in the ministry on campus. He shared that he is always available to meet and discuss any topic regarding faith, school, life, or anything else.