A New Adventure … in the Big City

I keep telling people that I have “settled in” to my new life here in Cheyenne at St. Mary’s Cathedral, but that I’m still “transitioning.”  Uprooting one’s life and moving to a new place is never an easy transition, even for priests who are seemingly more used to moving around (especially associate pastors as we tend to get moved around more frequently).  Saying goodbye to friends made and opening your heart to a whole new parish community is tough but it is also incredibly exciting.

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I left behind a community at St. Stephens Mission whom I had grown close to, after only one year at the Mission.  I was blessed by many incredible experiences there, amidst the challenge of ministering on the Reservation.  I also created Vita Nova Coffee, which is still in operation with volunteers at the Mission serving the people of St. Stephens.  I had to say goodbye to that chapter of my life, but it is comforting to know that those friendships and experiences will continue to endure, although they now look different on a day to day basis.

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I began priestly ministry here at St. Mary’s Cathedral on September 1 (has it already been 2 months?).  Right away I felt at home here, which is important in any situation.  The people of God are welcoming and engaging, an experience that I’ve received at every parish I’ve been to, and the Cathedral has been no different.  Although I grew up on a ranch in NE Wyoming and am comfortable in that kind of setting, which was life at St. Stephens, I am a city-boy at heart and living in Cheyenne feeds that part of my personality.  I love living in the downtown area with many sights within walking distance from the Cathedral.

Ministry is also a joy here at the Cathedral.  Being the youngest priest at the Cathedral, it is natural for me to plug into St. Mary’s School, the youth, and the young adult groups happening.  These various groups have been a blast to jump into.  The kids at the school are particularly fun to hang out with for their prayer services or Mass or various other events (Fall Festival is approaching this Saturday and the kids may even see me make an appearance during their Jump Rope for Heart program).  I strive to make a consistent appearance with the youth at Youth Group and enjoy hanging out with them and ministering to them.  The young adult crowd is also growing here in Cheyenne and I have already plugged into that group and hope to see it grow!  There are so many various groups here at the Cathedral that it’s hard to plug into them all, but I’m trying and going where I feel the Holy Spirit leading me.

I’ve also been able to plug into other activities as well including running a 5K in support of LifeChoice Pregnancy Care Center and will be running the Turkey Trot 5K in November in support of the COMEA Homeless Shelter.

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Coffee is also another major part of my personality and even though Vita Nova Coffee is back at St. Stephens, I have another set up in my office at the Cathedral, also completely free of charge!  So please feel free to stop by anytime I’m in the office for an Americano, Latte (with or without various flavors including Pumpkin Pie for October/November), Hot Chocolate, or tea, and a great conversation.  I love encountering people in this way and coffee is such a great thing to share and can be a springboard into a deeper conversation about God and life.

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Thank you all for your prayers and know that I’m praying for you!  If you’re in Cheyenne, stop in to say hi.  Cheers!

 

When Too Much Introspection is a Bad Thing

I’ve always had a certain ability to be very introspective, which has been tremendously beneficial, but occasionally I find it is also perhaps one of my biggest pitfalls too.  In seminary as we went through formation to be ordained priests, being introspective was part of the process; we had to look at ourselves and discern how to be a better man on a human level and on a spiritual level.  Some guys did this with ease and for others, this process was a bit more laborious.  I am naturally introspective and so when I am in various situations I am usually fairly aware of my interior state: happy, joyful, peaceful, sad, anxious, tense, scared, excited, etc.  This is useful because, for me, it has helped me identify parts of my life that cause me to be anxious, scared, or tense and go deeper to find where the Lord still wants to heal me and help me to grow.  Or I notice what brings me excitement, peace, and joy and so I am able to identify where the Lord wants to rest in me.  Part of this process for me is being able to talk these things out with someone; my friends can attest that I wear my emotions on my sleeves and am fairly open about my interior state (perhaps they wish I were less so!).  Regardless, it’s how I process and discern the Lord’s voice within my own heart, since, left to my own, I am likely to miss the Lord’s voice of truth.  While this may be how I process, everyone listens and hears the Lord is working in their life differently and each way is absolutely good, that’s the beauty in the diverse way God created each human person.  Even so, no matter how best we discern the Lord’s voice in our lives, I also think there is a danger in being overly introspective, which some are more susceptible to than others. Read more

#Vancouver2017

Vacation…what an multi-faceted word.  In one sense it means a break from the daily grind of life for a time and enter another world, in search of rest and rejuvenation.  In another sense it means adventure, where we go out from our homes to a new place and explore the amazing things God created on the earth, in search of excitement.  In yet another sense it means an inward discovery of oneself no matter where geographically a person finds oneself, in search of balance amidst the roller-coaster of life.  This kind of experience is crucial to any well-balanced life, even in the priesthood, and so in May I took the opportunity to do just that: I took a vacation.  Not a vacation from my vocation (as is often warned against; not a vacation from reality), but I went on a genuine vacation where I discovered God’s grace in my life in much deeper ways than I could have ever expected all the while being true to the man and priest God created me to be. Read more

Be Who You Are and Be That Well

In the Gospel from this Sunday we are faced with a seemingly impossible command from Jesus, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.”  On the surface this command seems absolutely unattainable, we are human beings after all with flaws and sins, so how are we supposed to achieve perfection?  In order to get what Jesus is actually saying we have to understand that He is not using the word perfection in the same way that we use the word.  The greek word used here is τέλειος, which is derived from the greek word τέλος, meaning end or goal.  The τέλος of a thing is that which it is made for, its purpose.  For example, the τέλος of a winter sleigh is to be ridden over snow pulled by a horse.  So a perfect sleigh, using the word τέλειος, is a sleigh that is able to be ridden on snow well, regardless of whether the sleigh itself has physical flaws.  It may have dents and scratches on it, but if the sleigh rides well, it is perfect; it is fully achieving its purpose of existence.  So when Jesus is calling each and every one of us to perfection, He is calling us not to somehow correct all of our flaws to be perfect (even though this is a continual process in the moral life), He calls us to be the men and women He created us to be, to attain the goal of who we were made to be: saints. Read more

God Has You and Me Right Where He Wants Us

Life is a constant journey.  Just when you think you got it all figured out, you realize how far away you still are from having it all figured out.  But before becoming discouraged, it is important to realize that it is okay to not have everything in life figured out.  As we keep trucking on this road we call life, God continually places us in positions to keep learning, growing, and drawing closer to Him.  Two years ago today, on February 6, 2015, I was ordained a deacon.  It is hard to believe that it has already been two years, and I am quickly approaching my first year anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in May.  As I think back to my two year younger self, I could not have imagined then being where I am today.  St. Stephens Indian Mission was not on my list of expected appointments as a newly ordained priest in the Diocese of Cheyenne, and yet here I am.  I am not at all where I expected to be, but even so, I am exactly where God expected me to be.  And even more, I am where God wills me to be.  In His Divine providence, God placed me in the unlikeliest of places as a newly ordained priest in order to keep forming me into the priest He has called me to be and to keep drawing me closer to Him.  He sent me a friend and brother, Deacon Bryce, to journey on this road together and through these past many months, I have continued to grow and learn more about the priest God is forming in me.  It has been far from easy, but then growing in holiness never truly is easy because it requires a continual death to self, a continual giving of oneself with a love that is free and doesn’t grasp, which, in our broken humanity, is difficult. Read more

What a Sleigh Ride Taught Me About the Beauty of Reality

On Christmas Eve I did something I had never done before, I went on a sleigh ride.  It wasn’t just one of those sleigh rides you pay for as a tourist attraction in a quaint little Christmas-looking mountain village, but I went on an authentic Wyoming ride, with a sleigh, restored by Deacon Bryce and myself (with a little help from our friends) and Chief, the horse, whom Deacon Bryce had been training this past autumn to pull the sleigh.  Now is typically the part where you would think I would describe the sleigh ride as “magical” or “amazing” or other such things, but I’m not going to.  In fact the sleigh ride was a bit more mundane that I had originally thought…and yet, even so, the reality was more beautiful than any of the perfect, romanticized versions could ever be, and I loved it. Read more

Coffee at Jacob’s Well

Everyone loves coffee…well, almost everyone loves coffee…and if you don’t love coffee, you probably love the idea of coffee.  The aroma of freshly brewing coffee, the earthy, crisp taste of the coffee itself, the hot cup that warms your hands in contrast to the cold weather outside, the deep conversations that spark between friends over coffee, or even just the quiet solitude of a hot cup of liquid as you contemplate life and pray in thanksgiving to God, there is something for everyone to enjoy in a good cup of coffee. Read more

Aftermath

Yesterday was a surprisingly tension ridden day for me.  I woke up to the election results and, as expected, many people rejoiced and many people lamented the outcome.  This came as no surprise for me.  We, as a country, were heavily divided on our presidential candidates.  Even I, personally, had done my best to prepare myself for whatever outcome would happen by focusing my attention on Jesus Christ, who remains King of the Universe no matter which candidate the United States of America was voted into office (in fact, this reality of Christ as King is something we, as Church, will reflect heavily on in just a couple weeks).  After the initial smartphone check on the news to see the results yesterday morning, I made a fundamental error throughout the rest of the day: I checked social media. Read more

The Problem with LGBTQ Language in Regards to a Proposed Resolution in the City of Cheyenne

Every single human being was created in order to live and, not just to live, but to thrive and flourish.  The story of creation tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it;’…And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:27, 28, 31).  Jesus, God incarnate, additionally said, “…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Read more

Trust and Follow

In my limited experience of priestly life these past five months, I would say priestly life is like being handed the keys to a 1953 Chevy pickup truck with manual transmission and no power steering and being told by God the Father, “You’re driving.  Let’s go!”  God sits shotgun and places an indescribable amount of confidence and trust in me, his beloved son, the driver, as I strive not to kill the truck amidst the fear that I will do just that.  Ultimately, what is revealed to me is that God the Father’s confidence in me is justified, I just can’t see it in myself because of my fear of failing.  God is guiding me each step of the way, not by driving for me, but by teaching me how to drive. Read more

The Joy of Running … and Swimming

This past week I rediscovered something crucial to any life well-lived, exercise.  Before priestly ordination, seminary life provided a mostly structured scheduled environment in which it was fairly easy to work in running to my weekly routine.  During my time in seminary I ran 3 half-marathons and many other 5Ks, 10Ks, and 15Ks.  Since priestly ordination, however, my life has been far from routine; with a bit of vacation, starting at St. Stephens Indian Mission, World Youth Day trip to Lithuania and Poland, and trying to get settled back here, I haven’t made the effort to get out and run…that is, until last week.  What transpired was a rediscovery of the joy of running.  I don’t mean that in a superficial sort of way, in truth, it hurt; my body was not ready for me to pick up running again and definitely let me know it wasn’t appreciative of the 3 miles I tried to cover.  The joy consisted in the experience of getting out and away from everything for 30 minutes.  It gave me an experience to be outside, with the beauty of God’s creation all around me, creating a sense of awe and wonder at the created universe.  I also love to run with music so running allows me to jam out to my music and enjoy without worrying about anything back home.  It’s a great stress-reliever, a healthy habit, and a spiritually uplifting experience (for our spiritual life and our physical life are intertwined: when our bodies are in a healthy place it aids our spiritual life and vice versa).  Needless to say, I hope to keep up the running routine and check out some of the local races here in the area…I’ve noticed a Turkey Trot 5K coming up in November in Riverton. Read more

A Portion of the Hundredfold

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” – Mk 10:29-30

One of the things that every newly ordained priest must face is the fact that he has in a very literal way, laid down his life for Christ.  That means giving up a family, a stable home life, even a career.  It also means living and ministering in places he possibly never thought he would.  Being a priest means having one foot in the created world and the other in the spiritual world.  He directs the people he ministers to an encounter with Christ and points everyone to their ultimate destiny, eternal life in heaven where we will all see God face to face. Read more

World Youth Day Kraków 2016 – An Unexpected Experience of Fatherhood

Having never gone to World Youth Day before and being a newly ordained Catholic priest (May 20, 2016), I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going into this World Youth Day pilgrimage in Kraków, Poland.  I wasn’t entirely sure what my role would be, what my purpose would be, on this pilgrimage.  I have been ordained a priest for about two months, so I knew that I would be going on this pilgrimage as a priest, but even that didn’t reveal to me what my deeper purpose was going to be.  Plus, with my life being hectic with the move to my new parish at St. Stephens, which occurred literally a week and a half before we left for Europe, my life was understandably upside down.  I had almost no time to mentally prepare for this trip.  Instead, I packed light and hit the road to join up with the rest of the group from Wyoming as we prepared to leave the United States of America with little to no expectations of what was to come.  I think this complete unpreparedness was, in itself, a grace given to me by the Lord.  Without any expectation of what was to come, the Lord moved me in ways I didn’t see coming and have been tremendously blessed by, and my not have noticed had I been actively expecting something else. Read more

My Priestly Ordination

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Praised be Jesus Christ!

What a grace filled week I have experienced.  Words fail to describe the greatness of the Lord to me this week.  I feel that I can only echo the Psalmist: “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?  The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name” (Psalm 116:12-13).

On Friday, May 20, I was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  I am still processing the reality that is now my whole life and vocation.  I am incredibly grateful to God for His goodness and grace in my life and I am grateful to all of my family and friends throughout my entire journey who have helped me along this path to my priestly ordination.  I could not have done God’s will for me without your prayers along the way.  What a grace to be part of such a great family as the Body of Christ! Read more