Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Challenges and the Call

The importance of and challenges confronting ordained ministers are significant. As I prepare to be ordained, I am---to the extent that it is possible---mindful of both. Certainly there is both a Scriptural as well as a doctrinal framework which highlights the important role of clergy. Being vehicles through which the sacraments are realized surely lies at the core of the role. Yet, we know that preaching, counseling, and, yes, administering (dare I say meetings?) are also responsibilities which take up a great deal of time for priests.

At the same time, the challenges which confront not only Roman Catholic clergy but also ministers of all denominations are many. Prevailing social norms and attitudes (secularization, materialism, etc.) often means that priests, like their parishioners, stand as countercultural witnesses to contemporary ways of thinking and living. Scandal which has not only confronted Catholic clergy but again other ministers has created an environment in which respect can not be assumed but rather represents an element requiring continuous nurturing. And, yes, there are also the demands of time and energy which are placed upon clergy.

So, with these and so many other challenges, “why become a priest?” some might ask. For me, the answer is complex and not easily reducible to a blog entry. However, my own response is one which reflects a response to God’s call, truly a reality which has grown during my formation as a seminarian. My “yes” to priesthood also involves a prayerful reflection of the gifts (and limitations) which I bring to ordained ministry. At this point in my life (and I am a bit older than many new priests-to-be), I cannot imagine any other path which gives me a sense of greater excitement and potential fulfillment than priesthood.

There are many unknowns and intangibles which are associated with this whole process of persisting to and through ordination. Ultimately, I believe, it is a matter of trust: in the affirmations received from those around me and, most especially, in our God whose love surpasses all of our understanding. I hope to see many of you, faithful readers of this blog, at my ordination on February 2 (11am at Holy Trinity).

Deacon Steven
Our deepest thanks to Deacon Steven for his contributions to this blog and our prayers and best wishes on his upcoming Ordination. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Happy New Year!

I am the temporary fill-in for our regular correspondent, Jason Harris, who has done a great job with this blog over the past few months. Next up after my brief assignment will be Peter Bucalo, a brother seminarian and a second year theologian at Saint Meinrad.

Having graduated from Sacred Heart School of Theology in early December, I transitioned back home and began an assignment with Holy Trinity parish in Louisville. It was and is great to be back with the Holy Trinity community, always full of vibrancy, joy and commitment.

Most certainly, the biggest news, at least for me, is my ordination to the priesthood which is planned for Saturday, February 2 at 11am at Holy Trinity. The next day I will be celebrating my first Mass of Thanksgiving (also at 11am at Holy Trinity).

To say that it has been an exciting time for me, in this period prior to ordination, would be an understatement. The exceptional efforts of the Holy Trinity parish staff team along with the Archdiocese’s Office of Worship have meant that I have not concerned myself with the details of the event, but “only” with trying to prepare for priestly ministry as much as that is possible. Prayer as well as continued service as a deacon has been the two pillars upon which my preparation has been built. And, as I have engaged in events and activities at Holy Trinity since graduation, I am reminded of the importance of as well as the challenges confronting ordained ministers. More on that topic in next week’s update!

Please know of my continued prayers for you.

Deacon Steven Henriksen

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Which Priest or Religious Brother or Sister Has Most Influenced You and How?

There are many people who have influenced my life as a Catholic. My parents have taught me right from wrong, and my teachers have taught me more and more about the life of Jesus. But the person who has influenced me most would be my fourth grade teacher. She was a religious sister, so she really had an impact on my religious life. Every day after recess, we would pray a decade of the Rosary. Then, in religion class, we would talk about the life of being a religious person or what it would be like if we could see our guardian angels. Over time, I became interested in the life of a religious sister.

Over time, I began to wonder what it would be like to be a religious sister. I used to think that all religious sisters would do was pray and go to church. But over time, that image began to change. I learned that there were many things a religious sister could do. I never thought they were able to play things like tennis or volleyball, or go for walks in the park. I didn’t even know sisters could teach until I had one as a teacher.

Over time, it began to become clear to me that there were many vocations that I could live my life as when I grew to be an adult. All it took was a year with a religious sister as a teacher, and I knew more about living a religious life than I ever had before. I see myself more open to Christ and sometimes I consider choosing a religious life when I grow up. That is how a religious sister influenced my life and how my life has been affected.
This first place essay is written by Olivia Harner.  Olivia is a 7th grader at St. James School and a member of St. James Church in Elizabethtown.  She is the daughter of Michele and Tim Harner. Olivia will be presented with a $100.00 award from the Serra Club at an upcoming luncheon at the University Club.  Congratulations on a wonderful essay Olivia!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Q: Which Priest or Religious Brother or Sister Has Most Influenced You and How?

Sister Michael Marie, the principal of St. James School, has influenced me in ways almost indescribable. Throughout my ten years attending St. James, I have realized how much Sister Michael Marie does for her teachers, parish staff and most of all, her students.

While running one school, Sister Michael Marie has recently directed the planning, building and moving of our previous two-building campus to our new campus with grades ranging from Pre-K through 8 in a single building. She has done everything possible to make the move simple, and at the same time she has tried to keep the school running smoothly. Throughout this process, I have observed a sense of leadership in our principle that has influenced me to take an interest in leadership myself.

After taking this interest, I developed a drive to do more. What do you suppose I mean by this? I currently participate in four academic teams, three sports teams and I maintain an A average. Now that we have moved into the building, it continues to run as smooth as ever, thanks to Sister Michael Marie. I have come to realize the values she has instilled in me throughout my ten years at St. James will carry and follow me throughout my life as a teenager and as an adult.

These are just some of the ways Sister Michael Marie has influenced and inspired me, and I know now that this influenced and inspiration cannot be implanted into so many people by one, sole person, unless that is their true vocation in life. That is the truly special part of any vocation if we can come to understand it. This part being that it takes a distinct person to recognize “their call within the call,” as Mother Theresa would say. I have realized now that many others see the exact same thing that I see in Sister Michael Marie.
Today's blog is the 2nd place winning essay in the Vocation Awareness Essay Contest, co-sponsored by the Serra Club and the Archdiocese of Louisville Vocation Office.  Our author is Kyle Landis.  Kyle is in the 7th grade at St. James School in Elizabethtown.  He is the son of Tim and Karen Landis.  His home parish is St. James.  Congratulations, Kyle!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Do Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters and Permanent Deacons, in Their Life and Ministry, Bring Christ to Others?

Religious people bring Christ to others through their example. Those people who were called to the religious life show us examples of Christ daily. They don’t show prejudice, regardless of what one’s reputation may be. They give people countless chances to show who they really are.

Religious people forgive others and priests help us with confession to resolve situations in which we’ve sinned and restore our relationship with God. They teach us examples of prayer and how we can become closer to God and make it our life’s mission to live as Jesus’ disciples. They send a message to people in mass or give advice to people that Christ would have given them. Religious people help society as a whole; not just certain social groups. They help the people in pain, suffering, struggling, and those who can’t handle themselves. Through their actions, generations of people see God and are inspired. When they grow older, because they were inspired, those people will become priests, deacons, sisters and people of belief. The faith of God will never die down because of these religious people who are spreading Christianity.

Religious people also go out of their comfort zone, acknowledge the problems our world faces, and try to fix it as Jesus did. They think violence is the last resort and that there’s always a better way to go. They treat all of God’s creations, (people, animals, plants, nature and the entire world), with respect and they know no matter the differences, each life God created is special and should be treated with respect. Through all of their actions, bystanders can see Christ working through them. Religious people’s devotion is so strong that regardless of other people’s criticisms and actions, religious people will do what is morally just.
Today's blog is the 3rd place winning essay in the Vocation Awareness Essay Contest, co-sponsored by the Serra Club and the Archdiocese of Louisville Vocation Office.  Our author is Sydney Blandford.  Sydney is in the 8th grade at St. Andrew Academy. She is the daughter of Joe and Stephanie Blandford.  Her home parish is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Congratulations, Sydney!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mastery Takes Time

Over this Christmas break, I began reading a book (suggested by one of the teachers at my seminary), entitled: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment by George Leonard. I have not read it entirely but there are a couple points from the book that I have found valuable.

(1) The first is the title of the opening chapter "The Master's Journey." (This is the reason the teacher gave the book for me to read). I find myself unnecessarily expecting myself to be absolutely perfect at a task the instant that I undertake it. As evidenced by the self-improvement commercials between Christmas and New Year's, we always expect immediate and successful and quick results. The way of mastering any task is long and hard and arduous. There is no shortcut to the way. In fact, the book is helping me to see that the way of mastery is a lifelong process that ends only at one time, your departure into the eternal kingdom. I am trying to begin to enjoy the journey of learning with all the setbacks and "dry-times." This is where life is lived. I have to keep telling myself to "Enjoy the Journey."

(2) On page 28, this quote caught my attention: "Every time we spend money, we make a statement about what we value." The things that we "want" can sometimes possess our thoughts and mind. If I were writing this statement to say "Every time we spend TIME......." because I ask myself this question often..."How am I spending my time? Is it the way that the Lord would be satisfied?"

I just realized that I need to put both #1 and #2 together! I should be spending my time effectively by enjoying the life journey that the Lord has provided for me. HE has given all of us so much to enjoy, so much to live, and such much for our ultimate happiness. I need to wake up and enjoy the Journey.

Picture Credit: