Getting to Know Fr. Steven – part 1

My dear friends,

 In the pastors column I want to focus my thoughts for the next few weeks on us getting to know each other.  So I will begin here by share with you some things about my own life, a life which has become for me a song I sing to God in praise for His wonderful Mercy.

 I grew up in the small, river town of Prescott Wisconsin, that beautiful land flowing with milk and butter.  There are five in my family.  I have an older sister, Susan, and a younger brother Michael–both of my parents are still living, praise God.  For the first nine years we lived in a trailer park on the outer edge of town, and next to this park was a large field.  This field and the river bluffs became the play ground for me and my brother.  As far back as I can remember I was always deeply fascinated by nature, that first book of revelation we call ‘creation.’  Though my stronger interests were in rocks and insects, I would bring home just about anything I could find: snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, spiders–all those things my mother wished I would have left in the field.  This enjoyment and connection with nature became the place of my first encounters with God–for my family did not practice any kind of faith until I was 10 years old.  I did not have much of an idea about God at that time, but I sensed His presence at certain moments, and sometimes it would make me joyful and leave me very peaceful.  It was later when I looked back on this time of my life that I realized these gentle touches were God.  All those days and hours we spent roaming our little wilderness kept us innocent and gave us temporary relief from the heavy burdens of our broken family life.

 My father was an alcoholic for much of my childhood, and this brought a lot of pain and heart-ache into our family, weighing especially heavy on our mother.  Because of this we were always struggling financially, but the hardest part for me was not having a father who was able to model and nurture in me a sense of identity, self-worth, and those noble qualities of a true man.  Things have changed so much since then, and I thank God today for blessing my father and making him a new creation in Christ–but back at that time I had to try as best I could to figure things out on my own, which I did not do very well.

 In an attempt to steer our family in a better direction, my mother–God bless her–had us baptized when I was ten years old.  I also remember my mother and father sitting us down one evening to teach us the Lord’s Prayer before bedtime.  Hope started to grow in our hearts and the sense of a ‘new beginning.‘  And things did get better for a time–my father even stopped drinking for a few years–but, unfortunately, it didn’t last very long.  And even though we had received the gift of New Life in Christ through the waters of baptism, we had no one to help us understand this wonderful Gift and what it meant for our life.  So, not having any close adults or peer models to mentor me, and only a weak faith to guide me, I was very vulnerable to the influences of the various peer groups at school and in the popular culture.  So little by little, with my heart thirsting for love and acceptance, I started to drift further and further away from God and the path of goodness to seek love and happiness in the wrong way and in the wrong places.  But through it all I was to realize one day that God never abandoned me, that He never stopped loving me–I will share this with you in the next bulletin.

God love you,

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