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!

 

#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

Jesus’ Gift of Transforming the Messiness of Humanity into Beauty – My Homily for Christmas Mass during the Night (2015)

Recently TripAdvisor released the top 25 destination spots in the United States for 2015. Among the list are New York City, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, Seattle, among others. Sadly Gillette, WY did not make the list of vacation spots in America. 6 years ago I traveled to one of these places, Orlando, Florida to attend the national FOCUS Conference. FOCUS is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and that year they held their national convention in Orlando that year. This was before I was in seminary and I was still at the South Dakota School of Mines/Technology in Rapid City and very active in the Newman Center, so a group of us traveled to Orlando Florida for the FOCUS convention. While at the conference, it was pointed out to me the awesome wonder of the city itself. And 6 years later Orlando continues to impress. Orlando had over 60 million people visit the city last year alone, which places Orlando as the most visited city in the nation. Now it’s important to look at the reasons why Orlando is such a wonder of a city. If you take a moment to think about it, what was Orlando before Disneyworld and the Harry Potter theme parks and the upcoming Star Wars theme park? Orlando was a swamp. It was a cesspool of diseases including malaria and probably smelled pretty terrible. Nobody would ever want to visit a place like that. But what happened? People changed it into an impressive city worthy of over 60 million visitors last year. Orlando was transformed from a cesspool of disease into the most visited city in the nation in 2014. Another city on the list, Las Vegas, Nevada, has a similar story. Today Las Vegas is the 4th top destination spot in the nation, but before Las Vegas became the notable city it is today, Las Vegas was a desert where nobody would ever want to go to visit. Las Vegas was also transformed by the people who built it from a desert, devoid of life, into a huge city full of life that people want to go visit. If these remarkable transformations of cities happen through the work and dedication of simple people, how much more so can God, who is our heavenly Father and is all-good and all-powerful, do for us gathered here tonight? 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