Father Froehle told God he’d ‘keep moving’ if doors opened

| Jessica Weinberger | May 30, 2017 | 1 Comment

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

For the first half of his undergraduate college career, Father Nicholas Froehle lived the life of a typical student in Ireland Hall, a historic all-brick residence hall that sits just yards away from St. John Vianney College Seminary on the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul.

The Littleton, Colorado, native enjoyed his philosophy classes, access to the city biking trails and lakes, and the close proximity to extended family. Both of his parents, Tom and Maryjo Froehle, have strong roots in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud areas.

High school conversations with his parish priest about the priesthood, as well as a supportive letter from his grandparents prior to confirmation, had planted seeds about his vocation. But it was in Ireland Hall where he formed strong friendships with students in the Catholic Studies program, along with the nearby seminarians, that led him to further discern his call.

“Through that mixture of strong relationships centered in faith, that’s where a lot of discernment started to happen and helped me take the leap in the final year,” said Father Froehle, who attended the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

He entered SJV as a senior, replacing his established college routine with early morning prayer, mandatory study hours and a new focus that often challenged him to put his obligations to the seminary ahead of other commitments to family and friends.

“By the time I was ready to enter seminary, I was praying and said, ‘Lord, I’m going to say yes, and I’m going to keep saying yes. If you keep opening doors, we’re going to keep moving,’” he recalled.

Those opened doors soon led him to the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and later, a teaching assignment at Our Lady of the Lake in Mound and ministry as a deacon at St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park. He also served in the seminary’s Evangelization in Action program at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights and as a chaplaincy intern at Boutwells Landing retirement facility in Oak Park Heights.

At 25, Father Froehle is one of the youngest priests ordained this year in the U.S. His time spent in parishes gave him a taste of what the future will look like as a priest, an experience he calls life giving.

“I’m just so excited to be in the parish full-time and be with the people of God,” he said. “It was incredible to meet so many different people with so many different stories and just love them. I can’t wait to get there.”

One of his most memorable moments was assisting with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at Our Lady of the Lake. Journeying alongside individuals who were coming to know Christ and preparing to enter the Church was a powerful experience for the soon-to-be priest.

“To be present at the Easter Vigil and be by them as they made their profession of faith and received holy Communion for the first time was really beautiful,” Father Froehle said.

Father Michael Pavlakovich, pastor of Light of the World Roman Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado, first met Father Froehle as a high school student in the church’s youth group. Seeing his love for the Eucharist, Father Pavlakovich hoped that he would accept his invitation to pray about the vocation to the priesthood — a hope that has now come to fruition.

“Nick has a joyful spirit and a pastoral heart,” said Father Pavlakovich, who vested Father Froehle at his ordination. “In addition to his intelligence and sense of humor, I have been privileged to celebrate with him on the altar and am so impressed by his presence and giftedness on the altar.”

Father Froehle plans to bring his deep appreciation of sacred music to his parish assignment. Throughout his time at St. Thomas and in seminary, he participated in a musical ensemble and believes that spending time with the Psalms has enriched his prayer life.

“St. Augustine had it right with, ‘He who sings well prays twice,’” Father Froehle said. “There’s something about how that seems to elevate all of us in a unified way to glorify God with our voices that I find particularly moving.”

While Father Froehle is going to miss the strong sense of brotherhood from the seminary, he hopes to continue his regular get-togethers with fellow priests and seminarians to play trivia or cards.

As he begins his priestly ministry, Father Froehle also plans to keep one simple piece of advice close to his heart.

“Love the people of God and pray,” he said. “Then, it’s going to be a happy priesthood.”

Father Froehle will be ministering as parochial vicar of St. Ambrose in Woodbury.

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