As you know, Bishop Kettler recently assigned me to be the parochial vicar of the Church of St. Michael and the Church of St. Joseph, as well as the sacramental minister with Hispanic ministry at the Church of St. Andrew in Elk River. Because of the Area Catholic Community, I will also be involved with the Church of St. Peter and the Church of St. Paul. I’m looking forward to being a part of this community! For my first bulletin article, I would like to offer a brief introduction about myself.
I grew up on a farm just north of Gilman, and my home parish is Annunciation Church in Mayhew Lake. To this day, I’m still a farm kid at heart, and I like to help out my family on the farm from time to time. I’m very thankful for my family, and especially for my parents, because they taught me at a very young age that Lord Jesus is everything, and we encounter Him most profoundly through the sacraments.
I first heard the call to the priesthood when I was about eight years old or so. The Lord didn’t appear to me in a vision, nor did I hear a loud voice from heaven. Rather it was a gentle whisper, like the Lord was saying, “Be a priest.” To this day, I still remember the peace I felt in hearing that call at such a young age. In high school, I started looking into careers that helped people, like being in healthcare or even law enforcement. But wherever I looked, the whisper always came back to me, “Be a priest.”
Eventually, during my senior year of high school, I discerned that it was time to enter the seminary. After the application process, I entered Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Seminary in Winona, MN. It was there that I first met Fr. Brady Keller and Fr. Patrick Hoeft, my brother priests. Without a doubt, the friendships I made in seminary are lifelong bonds, and I’m so grateful.
I prepared for the priesthood at IHM for four years on the campus of St. Mary’s University. During these years, I studied philosophy, and after graduating from St. Mary’s, I moved on to the Saint Paul Seminary (SPS) in St. Paul, where I studied theology for four years. During those eight years of seminary, I not only grew academically, but as a man of prayer and pastoral charity, and for that, I am grateful.
I graduated from SPS just over a month ago, and shortly after that, was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ on June 6th. While I enjoyed my time in seminary, it’s time to get to work! If you are a young man who might be hearing the Lord whisper to you, “Be a priest,” be not afraid! Follow Him wherever He leads. It’s totally worth it. - Fr. Tom Skaja