Father Evans expects varied experiences to benefit priesthood

| Susan Klemond | May 30, 2017 | 1 Comment

Father Bryce Evans at his ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul May 27. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

During his eventful journey to the priesthood, Father Bryce Evans spent two years as a Jesuit novice in St. Paul, walked 350-miles across Wisconsin on a pilgrimage, led teens at a Door County, Wisconsin, wilderness camp and began priestly studies at an Illinois seminary before returning to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he started.

“Each of those stops on the way gave me a different way of looking at the world and at the Church and faith,” said Father Evans, 33, of Corcoran. “I think they’re all mutually enriching me. I see the hand of providence in all of it, and it’s given me a lot of gifts for what I’m going to do in the future in my priestly ministry.”

As he begins a new journey as a priest, Father Evans brings the benefits of his experience, especially his relationship with Christ, whom he believes will enlighten and inform his priesthood.

With his parents, Basel and Debbie, and his younger sister, Melissa, Father Evans attended St. Thomas the Apostle. He had always been interested in his Catholic faith, but an experience on a mission trip after confirmation deepened his relationship with God.

After graduating from Buffalo High School, Father Evans attended Jesuit-run Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he learned more about his faith; eventually left his engineering major to study theology; and started to have a desire to explore priesthood or religious life.

“As I continued to pray more, deepen my faith, read more of the saints and talk about it with friends and priests, I realized that this is what the Lord meant me to do,” he said.

After finishing his undergraduate degree, Father Evans decided to pursue priesthood as a Jesuit and entered the Jesuit Novitiate of the Midwest USA in St. Paul.

As a first-year novice in 2008, he experienced God’s providence while on a 30-day pilgrimage experiment, a practice begun by St. Ignatius. With only $35, he walked from St. Paul to Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in the Milwaukee archdiocese, stopping at parishes along the way.

“I think the great genius of St. Ignatius is his sense of mission and the way that mission is set in one’s personal relationship with the Lord and his very personal call. That’s something that will always be a part of me as I approach my priesthood,” he said.

By the end of the two-year novitiate, Father Evans sensed God wanted him to step away from Jesuit formation. As he discerned what was next, Father Evans volunteered with Catholic Youth Expeditions of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, helping lead teens and young adults on Door County retreats combining faith and nature. There he heard a call to diocesan priesthood.

“It was a time of questioning for me, and things were reclarified during that time,” Father Evans said.

He decided to study as a seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay and completed two years of pre-theology studies at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. However, he realized God was calling him home to become a priest in the archdiocese.

At the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, Father Evans has appreciated his classmates’ diverse gifts and approaches to life, prayer and ministry.

He prefers prayer that is simply resting in God’s presence while listening for his voice.

“I found if I had too much of an agenda bringing to my time with the Lord in adoration, it ends up just exhausting and distracting me,” Father Evans said. “I just like to come before the Lord, rest in his presence and look at him and let him do what he wants to.”

In his free time, Father Evans enjoys reading theology, writing, classical music, conversations with friends, watching sports, hiking, camping and rock climbing.

Father Evans said he believes he’ll encounter challenges as a new priest, but the seminary has given him tools to face them. One of his first priestly experiences was celebrating his sister’s wedding Mass the week after his ordination.

On his journey to priesthood and the one ahead, Father Evans said he knows the Lord travels with him.

“The bedrock that has kept me grounded, against which all waves broke, was my personal relationship with Christ,” he said. “I’m confident he’s going to carry me through whatever comes in the future. I hope that my priestly ministry will be one that helps people find that same bedrock, Christ.”

Father Evans will be ministering as parochial vicar of Holy Name of Jesus in Wayzata.

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