Father Northenscold: Giving one’s life to the Church just makes sense

| June 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

Part of a series of profiles of nine newly ordained priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

A thoughtful 26-year-old, Father Matthew Northenscold takes his time answering questions, pausing before replying, and, often with eyes closed, seemingly searches for just the right response.

The son of John and Linda Northenscold, he grew up in Maple Lake — and St. Timothy parish there — with three sisters.

He credits homeschooling for giving him a good foundation in the faith, and said he got to a deeper level during his high school years. That knowledge about Jesus and the Church has been part of his journey toward the priesthood.

“When you trace it through history, the Catholic Church is the most important thing in the world, and it makes sense to give your life to it in whatever way makes sense for you,” he said.

When invited to check out the college seminary of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Northenscold said it felt right. He resonated with how former rector Father Bill Baer described St. John Vianney College Seminary as “a place to discern a vocation.”

Learning to pray well has been one of the things Father Northenscold said he values from his years both at SJV and later at the St. Paul Seminary.

“I got close to God,” he said. “I learned how to listen to him in prayer. He revealed his great love during a retreat and holy hour, and I felt a deep desire in myself to help others learn that same love.”

‘For better or worse’

As a priest, Father Northenscold is looking forward to celebrating the sacraments and teaching parishioners.

“I have a zeal for adult education,” Father Northenscold said, “and I suspect I’ll get involved in the RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults], Bible studies [and teaching] how to pray at a deep level.”

Getting to know Father John Mitchell, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights, was a value he took away from his teaching parish experience.

“He’s steady, doesn’t get fazed and always knows a prudent way of handling things,” Father Northenscold said.

He also admires Father Peter Williams, vice rector of the St. Paul Seminary.

“He just has this great joy about him all the time,” Father Northenscold said. “That’s something I’d like to emulate.”

He admitted to being “a bit of an introvert” — but feels he’s approachable, too.

“I love to laugh and to talk to people,” he said.

He enjoys hiking, being out in nature, and literature and movies, especially “Les Miserables,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Braveheart.”

He might have been a teacher if he hadn’t felt the call to the priesthood.

“God just kept telling me to go ahead,” he said, and he enters the priesthood with the approach, “for better or worse.”

It’s the kind of line that draws a grin, but Father Northenscold is serious when he says it, explaining, “It’s what spouses say when they marry. The priest takes the Church as his spouse, so I’m in it for better or for worse.”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda appointed Father Northenscold parochial vicar of the Church of St. Peter of North St. Paul.

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Category: Ordinations