You’ve moved to a new parish. What do you want your new parishioners to know about you?
I always hope that they know how deeply I love the priesthood and how much I desire to serve them as a priest and to lead them to God. I see the priest as connected to the person of Jesus Christ clearly, but also a figure of Moses, which is traditionally one of the allegories for the priesthood, and being an advocate as it were between God and man, and helping people to come to know Christ and to deepen their faith.
What else should they know?
So, that will be priority number one. But also, that I’m a very relaxed person, kind of a Jack of all trades. So, I enjoy all sorts of environments, people and experiences, and I really enjoy getting to know people and the various ways in which God has created them.
Is a parish ministry a blessing because you get to interact that way?
Right. Something that was pretty clear early on in my discernment was that I want to be with people in a parish.
What is your favorite memory of the parish you grew up in?
Probably the book ends, I’d say. I remember as a very young child at St. Robert gazing up at the mosaic above the altar, the inscriptions along the perimeter of the church — Bible verses and whatnot. That’s probably my earliest memory of church, kind of wondering and gazing at that.
Does it still bring back memories?
Every time I go in there, I always look up at them. That’s probably the memory that sticks out most clearly from my time at St. Robert, but the other book-end would be my first Mass — my Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Hedwig. Seeing it come full circle that I had begun to kind of wonder at what was going on at church at a very young age. Clearly, the Lord was calling me throughout all that time, and leading me deeper to himself. So, having that first Mass brought some closure to the whole experience of my childhood. Not that it’s over, but that story is kind of poetically book-ended.
Even if parents don’t think kids are getting much out of Mass now, as long as they keep attending, is it going to be all right?
It’s amazing how much they pick up. I’ve heard it time and time again, but you know, the parents are the most impactful on a child’s formation because they are the earliest teachers and the closest in proximity. So, if your kid knows you love them, that is going to go a long way. And they’re always going to return to that, especially if that has some sort of connection to their faith — if they see in their parents the love of God.
What have you read/watched/listened to lately that sticks with you?
I’m actually in a book club with a few of the priests — we try to read more classical novels and things like that, and the stuff that you were forced to read in high school or whatnot, but maybe never really appreciated. The one that’s sticking out the most at the moment — “Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire” by Joseph Langford — was recommended to me by my sister.
What is a pilgrimage you wish you could take (or take again)?
I would love to go back to the Holy Land as a priest. I was there as a seminarian and would love to go back and celebrate Mass at those holy sites. The Holy Land is incredible. I wish every person, every Catholic, could go there. Thanks be to God, I had the pleasure of doing a lot of traveling and pilgrimages when I was in seminary, but the one place I did not go to is Fatima. I’d love to go to Fatima at some point.
How can we pray for you in your vocation? Any specific intentions or intercessors?
I guess I’ll frame it this way: becoming a new pastor and quickly realizing that where I sort of get it wrong is where I think that the stuff that’s given to me, whether it’s stuff in the parish or, or stuff in life, or otherwise, is a task to be accomplished, or a fire that you put out rather than an opportunity for love. So I think the prayer that I would ask for from people is simply to see in things presented to me an opportunity from God to love. If our priests, married couples and individuals see that, I think we’ll be a lot better off. So that’s my particular prayer, but any way that somebody can pray or fast for me or any of our priests, I would greatly appreciate it.