By Fr. Aubuchon
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been and continues to be such a blessing to minister with and for you all and with my Dominican Brothers as well. On this celebration of the Solemnity of All the Saints, I wanted to share with you about some of my life as well as my vocational discernment that lead me to enter the seminary in 2006.
To begin with some fun, as priests, like all of you, we each have hobbies that we enjoy. I grew up on my family farm with row-cropping, hay-bailing, and raising cattle and hogs. I still like to go home and help my family farm or other friends as well. In fact, in my last priesthood assignment in Canton, Missouri, at St. Joseph Parish, I would often help one of my parishioners there with farm duties. I appreciated getting my hands into farming while in that assignment for the last two years, and he appreciated having the help.
I am also a hunter, of mostly whitetail deer; a fun hobby that I enjoy and one that simply gets me out into the woods, which is one of my favorite places to be. I also enjoy butchering with my family and friends at my Mom and Dad’s home-built butcher shop. We always have a great time doing this together and sharing the meat with one another as well as some laughs. I very much enjoy working with my hands, including metal working and “tinkering” with mechanical things though I’m not especially good at it. Additionally, I have a great time listening to good music, listening to good audiobooks, and watching movies as well.
Finally, I love to just talk to people, spend quality time with them and just get to know them; I learned this “hobby” or gift from my Dad, especially who simply loves to be with people and have good conversation with them, as do I.
A few other fun facts about my life include that I was blessed to travel to the Holy Land my Deacon year of seminary for two weeks. One of those weeks we spent on our silent retreat in preparation for our priestly ordination called the “canonical retreat.” The second week was a great opportunity to tour around various Holy Sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho, etc. While we were on the Mount of Beatitudes, I was down sitting in a little cave-like structure near where it is said that Jesus was preaching His Sermon on the Mount, and I just had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence with me, in particular Jesus’ presence. I felt as though Jesus was sitting right next to me. This experience was so overwhelming that I was moved to shed tears of joy from experiencing Jesus’ tremendous love for me and His gentle but assured presence with me as well. I will never forget that day nor that entire pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the place of our Blessed Lord’s Life, Death, and Resurrection in the flesh in this life.
The pivotal year for the beginning of my discernment to a possible vocation to the priesthood was my junior year of high school. Three very important things happened to me that had a huge impact. The first of those gifts from God was being introduced to Eucharistic Adoration and to powerfully experiencing the Holy Mass in a new way than ever before. The second very important gift that I received my junior year of high school was spending three days in University Hospital’s ICU with my family gathered in the presence of my dying grandmother. When my pastor, Fr. Bill Debo, came to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, he brought great comfort as a priest of Jesus Christ to me and my family. I also saw important reconciliation happening between some of my family members who hadn’t been getting along or really even speaking to each other for years. I experienced such a loving presence of Jesus in those three days and of His Church through her Sacraments that I was moved to consider if Jesus might be asking me to discern a call to the priesthood.
The third significant gift of my junior year of high school was receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at the hands of Bishop Gaydos, the same hands who would later ordain me to the Holy Priesthood on June 7, 2014. In Bishop Gaydos’ homily at my Confirmation Mass, he spoke about vocations and the importance of asking Jesus what it was that He was calling us to do with our lives in following Him in this life so as to receive the gift of the Eternal Life through our vocation one day, which is the ultimate goal of a vocation.
Finally, the last and in some ways the most important piece of my initial discernment to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ was my experiences in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was in this Sacrament on a few occasions during high school, after I had come back to Confession, that I experienced our Blessed Lord ask me in my heart if I would be willing to be His instrument of mercy for others in Confession as His priest as I had been blessed to receive from Him at the hands of His priests.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, your vocation is what is the best, most perfect, and easiest way for you to get to Heaven. Why would you not want to ask Jesus what that call and invitation from His Sacred Heart is for you and for your life? Why would you not want that gift of Eternal Life to be given to your children in and through their vocation, with an openness and prayerful discernment to ask Jesus what that is for their life? It is worth everything to follow our Blessed Lord and to do so in the most fulfilled way in and through your vocation.
As we celebrate this Solemnity of All the Saints, they who are in Heaven looking upon the face of the Blessed Trinity, let us follow their example of an open heart to receiving the will of God in our hearts and answering that call with great courage. The saints are truly our friends in Heaven; let us call upon their intercession to pray for us in following our Divine Lamb wherever He goes. Through the intercession of all of the saints, please keep in your prayers those discerning their vocation and for an increase of vocations to the Holy Priesthood, Consecrated Life, and for Holy Marriages. May your heart be open to your own vocation and to go deeper in it with Jesus. Let us also pray for an openness in the hearts of our young people that they may have the courage to seek out and to say “yes” to their vocation and that you Moms and Dads will be encouraging to your children to pray about their vocation and the path that Jesus may be inviting them to journey on. May God bless all of you and your families.
I absolutely love being your Associate Pastor at the St. Thomas More Newman Center as well as being the Chaplain at Helias Catholic High School and finally, the Vocation Director for our Diocese of Jefferson City. Please keep my Dominican Brothers and myself in your prayers as we assure you of our daily prayers as well.