Give Us Shepherds

Before entering the seminary, you originally planned to go into your family’s metal fabrication business and even learned to weld in high school. Do you ever use any of those skills in your work as a priest?

I think God uses all our past to help shape us for our vocation. Obviously, studying business in college, I took classes in accounting and finance, and now as a pastor, those are things that I have to discuss and make decisions based off of, so it’s good to have at least a preliminary background. Not that I’m an expert by any means — but I can read a balance sheet.

Looking back on your first few years of priesthood, what is the biggest takeaway? What have you learned?

I’m amazed at the beauty of the Church. When I thought about the beauty of the Church in my early years of seminary, I would have associated it with the liturgy, the teachings of the Church, or the great patrimony we have in our traditions. But the more I’ve gotten involved in parish life, I’ve been awed at the beauty of the Church as the mystical body of Christ. More concretely, I’m really just in awe of just the beauty of the faith of the people of God. I’m convinced that there are a lot of ordinary saints who are in the pews — people who are just living life and just being faithful.

Who is someone in your life whom you admire or strive to be like?

In my first assignment, I had the privilege to live with Fr. Wally Vogel. He’s 93 and has been a priest for 63 years. What was beautiful about that assignment was we had perhaps one of the youngest priests of the diocese living with one of the oldest priests, and despite differences in age and upbringing, I was really inspired by him and we formed a very beautiful friendship. He has a real love and joy for the priesthood, and he has a deep commitment to prayer.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In the last year and a half, I’ve gotten into shooting sporting clays. Up here in the Kettle Moraine area, that’s very much part of the culture.

What’s your favorite book?

The most impactful book that I’ve ever read was “Come Be My Light,” the spiritual writings of Mother Teresa. That book had a huge impact on my vocation: her radical generosity as she experienced the cross for almost 50 years, when she experienced this great dark night of the soul and didn’t sense God at all in prayer. I think it’s a message that I think we all need to hear — that being a saint, ultimately, is just about being faithful to what God asks us every day.

If you could invite any saint to dinner, who would it be and why?

I think I would choose St. Josemaria Escriva. He was a priest in a time in which the culture was very much polarized by different ideologies. He was really devoted, amidst the chaos of the world, to pursuing a call to holiness — really inspiring Catholics to be faithful to the Gospel and not faithful to ideology. I think that’s an important lesson, that God is inviting us to find holiness precisely where he has us. Our circumstances in life, our vocations, aren’t obstacles to being saints. They’re actually the very means by which he’s inviting us to be saints.

What’s the most interesting place you have ever traveled?

I think the most impactful place I’ve been was to the Holy Land, and in particular the most beautiful place in the Holy Land was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

What is your biggest hope and prayer for the people you serve at your parish?

That people fall in love with the Eucharist. That they realize not only that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and have an intellectual belief in that, but that their hearts actually long for the Eucharist.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

My mom’s background is in England, and so I really enjoy roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. She makes plum pudding, too — which is very labor-intensive but very enjoyable, and you really only get to enjoy it this time of year.