Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Discernment dinner insights from Fr. James Schumacher

Fr. James Schumacher, pastor of St. Laurence O'toole parish in Laramie, was the guest speaker at the February Discernment dinner hosted by the Diocese of Cheyenne Vocation Office. As providence would have it, yesterday was the Feast of the Chair of Peter recognizing the office of the Pope as "first among equals". Fr. James' homily spoke about the meaning of "chair" that is, a recognized and respected office of teacher. In this case, St. Peter and his successors the bishops of Rome, the Popes, hold primacy, first place as teachers of the faith. Fr. James then shared his vocation story with several young men. Fr. James impressed the group as a man of profound love of the mass, the gospel, the priesthood and the Church. Fr. James described his vocation story as "boring" that is lacking any major struggles or points of profound conversion. He related his story as one that grew like a plant, organically, steadily and by grace, gently over time. He offered to all present and to all of us an account of God's call that is exciting in that God knows us so well and relates to us in ways that we can be aware of so long as we pray, stay close to the mass, and really pay attention to the movements both of our hearts and of the needs of the Church. Fr. James beautifully described his number one hobby, history, as an asset to his personal faith and to his priesthood. He wonderfully explained "two great miracles of history: the Jewish people and the Catholic Church." Time and again he said, due to human sinfullness, it appeared in history that the Church was to all appearances doomed. Quoting G.K. Chesterton, Fr. James asserted that ours is a God who knows His way out of the grave, thus by grace the Church and the Jewish people are still testifying to the living God! Fr. James also spoke to the way that the Gospel has unmistakably and indelibly influenced our culture. We are called in a profound way to be aware of the lessons of history in part that we don't repeat mistakes but more so that we can rejoice in the way that God relates to us in history, both on a global scale and profoundly in the way that God calls each of us to follow Him!