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Evansville, Indiana
April 17, 1998     The Message
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April 17, 1998

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C The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 3 'e that seeds and nour- as a gar- rian to the has from his I his pas- s hop- of young !.calling to the will be ordained tothe priesthood on May 9 in Jasper years, he was busy with "sports, girls and partying." When he headed to the University of Southern Indiana, he wanted to get a degree, to get married and to "make a bundle of money." During college, he studied accounting and continued a relationship with a girl he dated in high school. "I was in control," he remem- bers. But his life didn't work out the way he had planned it. The relationship died, and he found no fulfillment in account- ing. "It didn't feel right for me. It was a painful process, because I had a plan. I had my life mapped out." asked him, "Do you think make a good father and by the question, Tony "Yeah, I do. "" said, "Good, Those are who make good raised in rural attended and Northeast boy, he was to go home and "do * grandmoth- him that took ecial One day, he went to his church, knelt down, and asked God what he should do with his life. The answer: I want you to be one of my priests. Tonv believes the call to the priesthood is a "seed within you, a gift from God. You don't choose this. [ never would have chosen it. It's the grace of God. Then, it's my choice to say yes." When he approached Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger about becoming a priest, the bishop asked him, "Do you think you would make a good father and husband?" Surprised by the question, priest who school of Columbus Council 565 qand St., Evansville, Ind. Phone: 423-2734 to 9 p.m. every Friday Saturdays April 11,18, 25 Public welcome/ .y ! treet tratman Please Support Message Advertisers PAUL'S PHARMACY Paul Mayer. Owner 2345 W. Franklin St. 425-4364 Tony answered, "Yeah, I do." The bishop said, "Good. Those are the kinds of guys who make good priests." Those "kinds of guys" have compassion, Tony explained. They aren't "some cold guys who won't get involved in peo- ple's lives or really care about them." An effective priest is someone who loves people and loves being a part of their lives. "I like the title 'Father' because I think it fits. If you are doing your job right, you are fathering people, shepherding them." Tony is aware that becoming part of peoples' lives means getting up at two in the morn- ing to make hospital calls. It means that people will unburden themselves to him at all times of the day because he is wearing a Roman collar. Tony is com- fortable with this as his future because he sees the priesthood as a "gift of God for the sake of the people." The writings of Pope John Paul II have also strength- ened his beliefs about what a priest should be. "The pope says 'life is a gift, that life is only understood -- it only has meaning -- when it's given away.' That mirrors the example of Christ's life. His whole life was giving. "All vocations call us to give. Husbands and wives give to one another. For me. I am called to sacrifice to Christ for you in the Church." Tony is often questioned about the role of celibacv in the priesthood, and he believes in the "effectiveness of a priest as a celibate. It symbolizes their total dedication to Christ. It's a total commitment. On the practical side, it means he's always available." During his seminary studies, he studied the lives of Protes- tant ministers who are married with families, and he discovered that often "it's not working. A lot of them are getting divorced, because they are stretched." As for himself, he says, "I admit I am a man attracted to women, but I have received a different calling. I don't see it as a cross. I see it as a joy. "Marriage just wasn't my calling." Tony believes that God is calling just as many men to the priesthood as 20 or 30 years ago, and he blames the declin- ing number of priests and reli- '" M&S Fire & Safety Equip. Co. Inc. Over 25 years sales and serves in the Tri-state 670 E. Franklin 424-3863 TONY ERNST .... : : '"::" ": gious vocations on their unwillingness to commit. Once he is ordained, he is hoping to work with Father Bernie Eti- enne, director of the diocesan Vocations Team. "There is no doubt in my mind that the guys are out there. We have to find them." He believes that the grace to fulfill his own priestly com- mitment will be pro- vided by God. He has seen this grace manifest itself during his years at Mundelein Seminary. "There were times in the seminary when I would wake up and think, 'What am I doing here?" Then, the good Lord would take care of my day. I would always turn it over to him." Tony defines himself as a "quiet guy who loves people: I like to be involved in peo- ple's lives. I'm an outdoors- man, I love nature. I'm a nor- mal guy who likes fishing and baseball and gardening. "On the spiritual level, I'm interested in having an impact in peoples" lives, in bringing Christ to them. I feel like the priesthood is the best way for me to do that." Pearl of great price One of Tony Enst's favorite scripture passages is about the "pearl of great price" which is found in Matthew 13. Again the kingdom of hea'n is like to m'rchant eking good,prrls. . Who when he found one pearl of great price, uzt his u,ay, and sold all that he had, and bougirt it. Tony believes that !'tO be a priest, that's the pearl. We must be willing to give up everything for that pearl, Our faith is that pearl." Recently. he has been asked where he will be assigned in the diocese. He answers, "I don't care. I'm not worried about where I am going, I'm going to be a priest. I love this diocese and I feel God called me to be here. "I'm excited about the day-in and day-out life of a priest. There's a lot of diversity. You never know what you are going to do when you wake;up. "I'm in it to serve the people and hopefully to draw them closer to the Lord." Tony will be ordained to the priesthood May 9 at St. Joseph Church, Jasper, by Bishop Get= telfinger. "Ordination will be a dream come true," he says. "1 want to be a priest, t*r - Plaza Pharmacy I Newburgh Plaza Shopping Center i e[gm.u,o,.oi Fast Prescription Service Ken and Rebecca Hacke I SAVINGS BANK, FSB ! 853-7141 I 2oo E van Tr St, Wagon I ! 5oo M st., P,.,,, i [ Inlll II