Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Conquering Mountains: A Priest That's Reaching For New Heights!

I was baptized into the Baptist church in 1977 at the age of twelve, but for the past four years I've been attending a Catholic church. My wife, Kelley, and I were married last year and she is a 'cradle Catholic' (raised in the Catholic faith since birth). I've attended church all of my life and have had friends of various denominations -- Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist. Prior to September 2015, I had only been in a Catholic church a couple of times with a friend whose family is Catholic. Although one of my Bachelor of Arts degrees from the 1980's is in Religion, I did not have personal exposure to Catholic church teachings in any degree of regularity until I met Kelley four years ago.

Worldwide, there are about 1.3 billion Catholics and 414,000 priests. I can tell you this, out of all of those people I am incredibly fortunate to be a part of a parish that is a blessing beyond measure in so many ways. The priest, Fr. Adam (shown in the accompanying photo), was ordained in June 2010 after some years of "wandering" -- as he calls it -- following his obtaining a degree in Building Construction Management. His discernment brought him to a point of leaving the bricks and mortar of job sites behind to help guide people toward setting and firming up the 'bricks and mortar' of their personal foundation of faith. He was actually assigned as the pastor of the parish I attend just a couple of months before I walked through the church doors in 2015.

A couple of years ago, the Catholic church I attend in north-central Indiana celebrated 150 years of ministry. At that time, Fr. Adam was quoted as saying, "Churches are places where the members of Christ congregate to pray together. We find Jesus here, too, because he said, ‘Where two or more are gathered in my name, he is in the midst of them." He was paraphrasing Matthew 18:20 and I can tell you that is precisely what I feel each week when I attend Mass with my family. Jesus is in our midst as we are gathered together with other parishioners in His name.

One aspect of Fr. Adam's life that I find truly interesting is his passion for climbing mountains. For several years, he has been pursuing a goal to climb the highest peak in each of the 50 U.S. states. He has conquered many mountains and has reached closer to heaven with each step, strengthening his body, mind and faith. He doesn't wander aimlessly, but instead steps toward his goals with God's guidance and strength -- both on mountains and within the church doors.

In September 2014, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, wrote an article for the publication "Today's Catholic" where he recalled the words of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati -- a Catholic man who had a heart for the sick and poor, and who was also an avid mountain climber. Bishop Rhoades wrote, "He said: 'I want to live and not simply exist!' On a photograph taken while mountain climbing, he wrote to a friend: 'To the heights!'... He was referring to Christian perfection, to holiness, and to eternal life."

What an excellent image -- living and not just existing... reaching for the highest heights rather than being complacent. I see this in Fr. Adam -- a man living his life to reach the heights for which God designed him. I'm truly blessed to call him my pastor.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso