As our Faith Formation year comes to an end, I would like to congratulate both our Confirmation Candidates on receiving the Sacrament from Bishop Kettler this past April 18th and also congratulate our First Holy Communion children these past weekends on receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. May the presence of the risen Lord be always felt and experienced in your life! Special thanks to all the choirs, musicians and liturgists who helped make these celebration possible. I want to also thank Geralyn Nathe-Evans, our Faith Formation Director, all our teachers and volunteers who helped form our children in Christ. Thanks also to our parents, the first teachers of our children in the ways of faith. Blessings to you all!
“California Dreaming:” Continuing the story of my journey, after I received a phone call from out West I was excited to be packed and fly to San Francisco to work for the U.S.G.S. I was now an employee of the Department of the Interior; Division of the United States Geological Survey; Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering; Branch of Seismology, and it was great! California, and Menlo Park, a suburb where I lived and where our building was located, is an absolutely beautiful place to be with its manicured lawns, palm trees, and where it is always 70 degrees and sunny. And the best part: “No mosquitoes!” It was exciting to work with some of the most intelligent and expert people in my field. I learned a lot from them! Our main job was to research earthquakes phenomena and map fault patterns deep with the crust of the earth all along the West Coast. For a young, adventurous man this was very exciting, as I was always on the go, either hiking or driving or flying to whatever destination I was assigned to. Mostly, I was what they call a ‘field tech,’ someone who transported seismic equipment, took care of several vans, made sure connections were made, organized and set up the monitoring instruments and equipment in the field, released very large explosive charges (creating our own earthquakes) and then recording those shock waves deep from the center of the earth. I was also the main “gopher” of the crew who was called on to do whatever my bosses said, yet I didn’t mind. I was able to be outside almost all the time and even fly in helicopter as well. I got to see great landscapes of mountains and desert places, and step where I know few have strolled! Little did I know, that my own ground would be shaken!
I lived only a mile or so away from the main office so I was in the habit of walking to work each day. Along the way I discovered this small but beautiful Spanish-style Church, which by now I would to go to attend Mass everyday on my way. One morning, on the Feast of the Ascension, I thought it would be a good idea to go to confession, so I did. Now, I have never met or talked to this priest before, although he was the pastor of that church. As I knelt down in the confessional and said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned…” the first thing this confessor said before anything else was, “What are you running away from?” “Running? What are you talking about?” I replied, trying to avoid the question at hand, but wondering if I was found out. “Have you ever talked to someone about this… of being a priest?” “Oh no!” I thought to myself, “Not this again!” “What do you do for a living?” the priest asked. “I am a geologist,” I said, “I study rocks.” “You know rocks can be pretty stubborn,” he responded. “They can also be very strong,” was my last response. With the conversation ended and receiving absolution, I walked out of there more confused than ever before, to the point of making me dizzy! “I thought I left this all back home in Minnesota!,” I said to myself, “ And now, I am confronted with it also here!” It was soon after this that other people in my office, who knew me very little, began to come up and ask, “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?” Even complete strangers would walk up to me on the street and ask, “Are you a priest?” “Oh my God,” I thought, “What on earth is going on? What am I going to do now?” From that point on, on a daily basis, my head would spin to the point that it was driving me a bit crazy!
One day, out of the blue, I received a letter from Fr. Bill Kloeckner, my pastor back home. How he found me, I don’t know. He wrote me a letter and I quote, “Why don’t you cast your nets in another direction for God…” [I forgot to mention that just before I left for California, I did go into Fr. Kloeckner’s office home and ask what this seminary stuff is about. I assured him that I was not interested after hearing his words. This explains the letter.] I immediately tore that note up and threw it away, deciding this priest business is not my style. “Besides,” I said to myself, “ I don’t want to care anymore. I’ve got my career going, so everyone, please stay out of the way!” Have you ever had a time in your life when you think you’ve got it all figured out? You are riding the wave and suddenly, the wave crashes and you find yourself dazed and flat on your back, on shore wondering what happened? All your defenses are gone. Well, this was one of those experiences for me. Despite what I said tried to say to myself, my conscience was hard at work in me. “Should I try to enter seminary and priesthood or should I not? How bad could it be after all? Then again, this is not what I had planned for my life! I am going to try to forget it.” But forget it, I could not. I am not exaggerating when I say that at least 2 dozen times a day I thought I had made up my mind and it was final and each time I changed my mind again. My “California Dreaming” was becoming a “California Nightmare” as I struggled to make a real sense and a real decision on this. This questioning of mine eventually rose to fever pitch until everything came to a final head and a decision had to be made in of all places, Alaska! Stick around next week for more of the story….