Letter from archbishop stirs priestly thoughts

| May 23, 2013 | 1 Comment

MarquardDeacon Luke Marquard

Age: 33

Hometown: Faribault

Home parish: Divine Mercy, Faribault

Parents: Stephen and Mary Marquard

Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism at Butler University, master’s degree in education at the University of Notre Dame

Teaching parish: St. Peter, Forest Lake

Pastoral learning experiences: Institute for Priestly Formation (Omaha, Neb.), Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Louis University Hospital, deacon summer placement at Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul

Hobbies: graphic design, cycling, coffee

Favorite books: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (Jonathan Safran Foer); “Brideshead Revisited,” “Decline and Fall” (Evelyn Waugh); “A Confederacy of Dunces” (John Kennedy Toole); “The End of the Affair” (Graham Greene); “The Old Man and the Sea,” “The Nick Adams Stories” (Ernest Hemingway); “Pardon and Peace” (Alfred Wilson); “Modern Catholic Dictionary” (John A Hardon); The Catechism of the Catholic Church; Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture

Favorite Movies: “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Big Fish”

Person you most admire and why: Following our term in Rome, I’m particularly drawn to St. Philip Neri. I am inspired by his zeal for souls, especially as this played out in his evangelization to the young men of Rome and to his practice of hearing confessions for so many hours each day. He’s known to have gone to the young men of his day, to the places where they gathered, and to simply ask: “Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?” This zeal and this approach seem appropriate to our day.

Additionally, I greatly admire my mother, who recently displayed great courage, great hope in the Lord, and great joy amid sadness and suffering in her diagnosis and treatment of cancer. She bore well the cross given her, exemplified gratitude for the prayers and support of others, and pointed readily to the efficacy of prayer.

Thanksgiving Mass: 10 a.m. May 26 at Divine Mercy in Faribault

What led to your looking seriously into the priesthood?
When I was a senior in high school (1997), Archbishop Harry Flynn was in the custom of annually inviting one boy and one girl from every Catholic high school in the archdiocese to his residence for dinner. I was selected as a representative from Bethlehem Academy. At the time, I was an involved Catholic — serving as an altar server, lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion. I did not, however, really know who the archbishop was or what he did. I only knew that this was a special invitation.

At dinner that evening, the archbishop told me that I reminded him of a priest from New York. I didn’t think much of the comment that evening. About two weeks later, I received a letter from the archbishop, in which he thanked me for joining him for dinner and in which he included some pictures of this priest along with a note that read: “This is what you’re going to look like when you’re older.”

My immediate reaction was: “Oh man. That means I’m going to look like a priest when I’m older.” The idea didn’t make much sense to me. I had a girlfriend. I was in a terrible rock band. And my college plans were already in place. Though the idea didn’t make sense to me, it was an idea that I couldn’t shake.

I tried to shake it for about 10 years, pursuing interests and careers that I thought made more sense. The Lord was very good to me during these years, allowing me enough freedom to explore what I thought best, but never allowing me to stray too far from him.

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?
I studied journalism at Butler University in Indianapolis and remained in that city doing public relations and marketing work for a large insurance company. Though I enjoyed the work, it ultimately left me unsatisfied. I felt the call to do something more, and the priesthood emerged as the answer to this call. But I wasn’t ready. I opted instead to take a job writing, editing and designing a quarterly magazine and other publications for a non-profit organization in Chicago. I stayed there for about four years — the work and the city were fascinating to me. In time, however, I recognized that the satisfaction I felt didn’t penetrate very deeply. Though enjoyable, this was not where the Lord wanted me to be. Priesthood again emerged, but I tried to shake it one more time.

My next move was to the Alliance of Catholic Education (ACE), a program out of the University of Notre Dame. In this program, students take master’s level courses during the summer months and teach in under-resourced Catholic schools during the academic year.

I taught in Denver. My time in this program was instrumental to my openness to the priesthood. First, because in the program I was surrounded by peers who were supportive and excited about the idea of the priesthood. This was a new experience for me, and gave me confidence to be more open about it.

Second, my time in the religion classroom helped me better understand the beauty of our faith and my desire to teach it.

Third, during my time in Denver, I made the Lenten resolution to attend daily Mass and to frequently participate in the sacrament of penance. Through these practices, the Lord made clear to me that my next move should be to the seminary.

When the program ended, I entered pre-theology at the St. Paul Seminary. Almost immediately, I knew a deep peace and satisfaction that had been absent in my previous pursuits. During my time of formation, I grew to appreciate more and more the great gift of the priesthood and was drawn closer and closer to Jesus Christ.

What people and/or experiences were instrumental in identifying and developing your vocation?
In addition to Archbishop Flynn and the ACE program, my family played an important role in the vocation, most especially through their witness of joy and service in the Lord.

My parents led by quiet example, faithful in their obligations and to their prayer. One particular instance that stands out happened while visiting my grandparents in Omaha. We arrived early to a Saturday Vigil Mass, and priests were hearing confessions. My dad simply stated that he was going to confession.

While I don’t know whether he had intentions beyond that, his statement really struck me. I was not in the regular practice of confession at the time — in fact, I rarely participated in the sacrament.

I knew that day that I should go, too. This was a turning point in my faith journey, as afterward I made confession a more regular part of my life. As I continued to discern the vocation, my family showed great support and encouragement. For that, I am thankful.

Father Kevin Finnegan played an important role. Though I was away from Faribault, and had no history with him, he was generous in his availability and support. Whenever I would come home to visit, he was quick to invite me to spend time with him, to answer questions about the priesthood, and to share his joy in the vocation.

Additionally, he introduced me to the Companions of Christ — for which I am grateful. My time with the Companions has helped me to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ, to recognize the vital importance of priestly fraternity, and to see the beauty in the evangelical counsels.

What excites you most about becoming a priest?
I am most excited about celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass and absolving sins in the sacrament of penance. Additionally, I look forward to — in the example of St. Philip Neri — finding those who are searching for something more, and helping them find it in Jesus Christ.

How would you like to answer the call to evangelization in your priestly ministry?
I know from my years of searching, and from my experiences with peers, that many young adults lack deep and lasting peace, and that they search for it in all sorts of things, even some very good things. I also know that what they actually desire is not a what, but a who — Jesus Christ. I pray that I can help them encounter him and his Church.

What encouragement and/or advice do you have for young men who may be considering the priesthood?
First, make Mass, prayer and confession a regular part of your life.

Second, enter into the silence. Remove distractions. Rest. Recognize where your heart finds peace, and where peace is lacking. Bring these things to the Lord in prayer.

Third, pray with the image of yourself as a priest. Take note of where this prayer leaves your heart.

Fourth, spend time with priests. Ask them about their lives. Ask them about the priesthood. Ask them what they recommend regarding discernment.

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Category: Ordinations

  • judy bechtold

    We look forward with joy to your ministry. Your love of the Lord shines. We pray for you and all those to be ordained.
    Tom & Judy Bechtold