Holy Name Residence,
“For me, preaching means everything. It has tremendous significance in my life. It helps motivate me to get up in the morning—that is my ministry. To preach Christ crucified means the heart of it all. Paul of the Cross and the Passionists, we are dedicated to proclaim, not just the Passion itself, but the meaning of the Passion.”
Questions and Reflections
How did you know you wanted to be a Passionist? When did you know you wanted to be a Passionist?
The key moment for me was when I went on a program and met some Passionists and actually found out about the Passionist charism, the Passionist Community. So, I looked at myself and what God was doing in me and I seemed to have a call to preach. I also had a great devotion to Jesus crucified, his love for me, and I wanted to reach out to people and make a difference in their lives. It seemed to me that those three elements of the Passionist Community, the thrust towards people, the charism of the Passion and evangelization, preaching, fit me very well. It took me a while after I met the Passionists to actually discern if I was called towards the Passionist Community. It was two or three years after I met them that I discerned a call to the Passionists.
Was there a moment when all of a sudden you said, "Yes, I am going to do this, I am going to commit myself, this is going to be my choice in life"?
There was a moment when I decided I was going to be a priest. Choosing the Passionists took a little while longer. I was actually out jogging with a friend of mine who was involved in some lay ministry. As I was running, I talked to him and I said, "I want to be a priest, I think that’s where God is leading me." So, I have been running the race ever since. In terms of the Passionists, can’t remember the specific moment, it was more of a process of gravitation toward knowing, since I wanted to be a priest, I had to choose a Community. I was a youth minister with the Marianists in St. Louis at the time and I was discerning with them, but, because of the charism of the cross and evangelization, I really went toward the Passionists.
You’ve spent your ordained ministry preaching missions as a Passionist priest. What does that mean for you, to preach Christ crucified?
My ministry is devoted to the proclamation of the unconditional love of God, how we can receive, and know, and experience that love in our daily lives. Not just to know about love, but really tap into it, be electrified by God’s love. So, it’s of great significance for me, giving my life meaning and purpose. When I am doing something that makes a difference in people’s lives, it really leads to joy in my innermost being. No, I do not always walk around laughing in extreme hilarity, but there is this calm delight deep within me. It is the joy of the Lord that is my strength, and it comes from being obedient to God to His call for me.
In what way is prayer a motivating fire that sustains you amidst community life and ministry?
Motivating fire, that’s exactly what prayer is. I remember a quote from Paul the Apostle, "the love of Christ impels me or constrains me." What that word means is that it propels me, it compels me, it impels me, it motivates me. And what prayers does, is actually helps me to plug in to God’s love, to experience that love. Prayer is a time in community when we use words, but a lot of the prayer that I use is outside of community in my own individual life. There is a tremendous emphasis in Passionist community on solitude in our own, comptemplative prayer life. That’s what I love about religious life, it affords me time to work on my prayer life. And from what I can see in our community, prayer is a major priority for every single person. So, really what I do is I go out on the road preaching and then I come back, I need time to come back to get in touch with the fire and to remember what is motivating me, because sometimes I feel really depleted and I need to recharge.
What would you say to a man inquiring about joining the Passionists? Why should he join the Passionist over the Jesuits, or the Franciscans or the Trappists? What would you tell him about the Passionists?
I would say that the Passionists are at the center of the Catholic Church. The Paschal mystery is the core of Catholic belief, and we are dedicated to proclaiming the meaning of the Cross. When I took my first vows, they used to have vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and the fourth vow was the Passion, the vow to meditate on and to proclaim the Passion. Now, for the younger guys being professed, the first vow is the Passion. In our contemporary theology, we have decided that from the Passion flows poverty, chastity and obedience. Our focus on Christ’s Passion is the center out of which everything flows. We are a community of love, a community of power, a community of passion.