“We proclaim Christ crucified.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:23
These were the words that I had on the back of my ordination card in 2007. As a priest, I had no idea where I would be assigned, what my future would hold, or what God had in store for me. All that I knew was that these words from St. Paul would be my guide as I lived out my priesthood. No matter where I was assigned, this would be my mission. And this still holds true for me today as I begin my ministry here at Nativity of Mary in Bloomington.
I was born and raised in North St. Paul (home of the world’s largest snowman), where I attended public schools from kindergarten through high school. I was involved in just about every “nerd” activity available: math team, band, jazz band, chess club, NHS, and even lettered four years in yearbook! Throughout this time, my parents were planting the seeds in my life that would later blossom into my vocation to the priesthood, though at the time, I was unaware of the hidden work of the Holy Spirit in my soul.
When I graduated from high school in 1999, I attended NDSU where I studied engineering and it was there that my faith life exploded. I began attending daily mass, praying the rosary, spent time in Eucharistic adoration and voluntarily went through the RCIA program, even though I was already confirmed. This was the time in my life when God became real and I wanted to build my relationship with Jesus Christ.
It was some time during my sophomore year at college where the question began to arise in my heart, “Is God calling me to be a priest?” I had never honestly asked that question of myself and so that became the heart of my prayer. After months of prayer and examining, I made the decision to change my major to philosophy and enter the seminary.
After six years of seminary, as I was preparing for my ordination, we were asked to have a holy card made for that special day. I selected an image of Jesus Christ on the cross and I was not sure what quote to put on the back. I was in the chapel, reading Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians when I read 1:23 and these words spoke very clearly to my heart that this would be my mission as a priest: Preach Christ crucified.
We preach Jesus Christ, his love, his mercy, his peace and his healing for a world broken by sin. Though, it is interesting to note that St. Paul even says that we preach Christ “crucified.” We preach Christ who has made the ultimate sacrifice out of love for his people. St. Paul wanted to emphasize that he is one who was willing to give everything to God the Father and for the good of humanity. That is what we preach. And so, it is with this short verse in mind that I begin my ministry here, serving the people of Nativity of Mary.
I am excited to be with you and to serve you. Please pray for me and for our parish.
Fr Nathan LaLiberte