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Faith: Answering the call

For those of you who do not know, I am the new Catholic priest in Crosslake and Emily. I arrived in the middle of July, and I have enjoyed my first few months in these communities. I am grateful for the warm welcome.

I am currently in my fourth year of priesthood, and my first few years of priesthood were spent in Brainerd and Duluth. My bishop, Bishop Paul Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth, then transferred me to the parishes of Immaculate Heart and St. Emily's.

I love being a priest. I get to meet many different people in a variety of circumstances. I am with them in their joys and their struggles. It is a blessing to pray with people and journey with them on this pilgrimage through life. It is a blessing to serve.

One of things that I have shared with my congregations is how I stand in awe when I look out at my people at church and think how God is at work in each of their lives, whether they know it or not, in their simple or complex circumstances of life.

We all have a story. All of us are on an adventure. Some of our stories are more exciting than others, but they are all exciting because God is trying to draw all of us to Himself.

This week in the Catholic Church in the United States we are celebrating National Vocations Awareness Week. "Vocation," from the faith perspective, refers to God's calling. This is a week where we promote, support and pray for vocations to the priesthood and other religious callings, like to become nuns, monks and deacons.

Though this week is highlighting these vocations, we all have a vocation. Some of us are called to the married state, some are called to be consecrated to God through the single life, and some are called to what the church refers to as religious life.

All of us, however, are primarily called to live in relationship with God and to be holy. When Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived among us, He invited people to follow Him and to live in relationship with Him. Because Jesus conquered the grave and promised us the blessing of eternal life if we follow in His way, we know that God invites us into an eternal relationship with Him.

The excitement of our different stories comes with the drama of people answering or not answering the call of God. St. Augustine, one of the more popular saints honored in the Catholic Church, shared some wisdom that is often quoted: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

During my short few years of priesthood and during my time in seminary, I have heard and seen stories of how different people have come to know the Lord and how they have answered His call. Some people were very far from Him because of negative choices they had made and the environment they were in. Other people were not necessarily far from Him but were at a distance simply because of being indifferent to God or ignorant of Him.

No matter what the circumstance, God continually seeks us and invites us into this amazing, loving communion. Until we say yes to Him, our hearts will be restless.

God is waiting for you. Do not be afraid to answer the call!

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