Deacon Leonard Andrie
Hometown: Inver Grove Heights
Home parish: St. Patrick, Inver Grove Heights
Parents: Rick Andrie (deceased) and Sandy Werner
Education: B.B.A. in finance at the University of Notre Dame; M.A. in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas; M.A. in theology at the University of St. Thomas; M.A. in divinity at the University of St. Thomas
Teaching parish: St. Odilia, Shoreview
Pastoral learning experiences: Institute for Priestly Formation (Omaha, Neb); Guadalajara, Mexico for Spanish immersion; Venezuela for two-week mission trip; St. Joseph in West St. Paul for diaconate summer; and St. Odilia teaching parish
Hobbies: Reading, traveling, taking walks, going to movies
Favorite book: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
Favorite movie: “Big” with Tom Hanks
Person you most admire and why: Pope Benedict XVI because of his intellect and humility
What led to your looking seriously into the priesthood?
That darn little voice, so beautiful, yet so insistent, saying to me, “Lenny, follow me.” Eucharistic adoration was a tremendous help in this regard. Plus, various people saying with a slight jest now and then, “You’d make a great priest” certainly didn’t hurt.
What were you doing before you entered the seminary?
Before entering seminary, I worked at a financial firm in downtown Minneapolis for five years. After working with young adults in preparing them for confirmation during that time, I decided to return to school to become a teacher.
I taught for two years in the Commonwealth of Virginia before entering the seminary — first fifth-graders at a parochial school, and then algebra to freshmen at a public school.
Were there any reasons why you had not considered the priesthood earlier in your life?
The first sign working against me was getting temporarily kicked out of religion class as a youngster. I was a squirrelly kid. I drifted away from the faith for most of my adolescent years. After college, I returned to the faith through a non-denominational Bible study. After that, the good Lord and I wrestled for about five years before I finally said, “All right Lord, you win.”
When was the first time you thought about the priesthood?
I first thought about the priesthood when deciding to leave my job and go back to school to become a teacher in 2004. After making the decision to become a teacher, I figured that I was done discerning. However, the Lord remained persistent. I finally said “yes” to the call three years later.
What people and/or experiences were instrumental in identifying and developing your vocation?
I witnessed a number of great priests who, simply put, loved the Lord and loved being priests. There was something quite contagious about them.
With regard to experiences, my father was diagnosed with ALS and passed away while in my first month of seminary. The images of his suffering and the way he handled it were quite instrumental in developing my vocation. I only hope that I can handle suffering in such a noble and beautiful way.
What excites you most about becoming a priest?
Knowing that it is a life filled with certainty — celebrating daily Mass and hearing confessions — and yet, tremendous uncertainty: what the Lord in his wisdom has in store each day.
How would you like to answer the call to evangelization in your priestly ministry?
Consistency is key. I enjoy teaching and would like to do something in that capacity again one day. Additionally, celebrating the sacraments reverently and being available for the people of God.
What encouragement and/or advice do you have for young men who may be considering the priesthood?
For me, the hardest part about discerning was having this “inkling” that I knew what the Lord wanted me to do, yet squashing it because of fear. Additionally, contacting the vocations director can be quite frightening.
Finally, even while filling out the application, at times I thought to myself, “Seriously, what am I doing?” I even hid the application under my bed for a couple weeks and pretended that it wasn’t there.
In the end, the goal is to listen honestly and give your “yes” like our Blessed Mother did in the Annunciation and at the foot of the cross.
There is an interesting story involving your Mass of Thanksgiving after ordination and your grandfather. Talk about that.
Every seminarian looks forward to the day of his ordination and his first Mass of Thanksgiving. They look with fondness to the day when they are able to approach the altar for the very first time.
As expected, I, too, look forward to this moment. In particular, I look forward to this time because the altar that I will approach was built by my grandfather, Leonard Werner.
At the age of 22, he was struck with polio, which confined him to a wheelchair and paralyzed his left arm. Only two years into his marriage with my grandmother, this greatly altered their plans of working and raising a family on the Werner farm.
Consequently, he and my grandmother moved to the little town of Coates, where they began an accounting business. They lived and raised their three children next door to St. Agatha’s parish.
When the little parish was in need of an altar, my grandfather, along with his friend, Jerry Frandrup, stepped forward and constructed it in the basement of my family’s home. When the parish needed a confessional, they built that as well.
Without question, my grandfather was greatly admired, as evidenced by the fact that he served as mayor of the little town for 20 years.
Unfortunately, just a few days before my birth, my grandfather suffered complications from a routine surgery, causing him to fall into a coma. As my mother went into labor, my father and other family members did their best to move back and forth between hospitals.
After I was born, my family went to see my grandfather, and upon telling him about his new grandson, a little tear came forth from one of his eyes. He died the next morning.
Somewhat akin to the opening of Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” for my family, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In a matter of 24 hours, my mother suffered the loss of her father and was blessed with her first baby boy.
As I have made my way through seminary, like every seminarian I had my doubts and struggles about my vocation. During those times, I often pictured the smile on my grandfather’s face and kept in mind the beautiful altar that he built. I am told that he never complained, and displayed an infectious joy that was simply contagious.
Even more, I have thought about the beauty of God’s plan not just for me and my family, but for all of his children. My family certainly could not have imagined during those most trying times that one day, their little boy born the day before Leonard passed away would one day celebrate his first Mass on that altar.
And yet, it has been the Lord’s plan all along. Indeed, the Lord has a plan for each of us and it is really something. Our task is to welcome it in joy and ask for the graces needed to cooperate with it for the Lord’s glory and our own good.