My birth, as far as I’ve been told, was rather uneventful. I was born in West Union, IA in 1967 to Ed and Rosie Goerend, and was raised in St. Lucas, IA. I have six older brothers and sisters along with a slew of nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. I attended Catholic grade school in St. Lucas and went to Turkey Valley Jr./Sr. High School and was a member of St. Luke Church in St. Lucas. I attended Loras College for a few years and then went off to see other parts of the country. Eventually I made my way back to Iowa where I entered UNI and completed a bachelor’s degree in history. After a few years I went back to UNI for a second bachelor’s degree in history education. For the past several years I’ve taught high school social studies in several districts in N.E. Iowa.
Where and when did your sense of call develop?
The path of my discernment has been quite a long one. When I went to Loras College in the late 1980’s, I entered St. Pius X Seminary. I went in to see what it was all about and to discern whether the priesthood was for me. I stayed for about 1 ½ years and then dropped out. Over the next 20 years or so, there would be times that I would feel a calling, but I would always come up with some excuse to not pursue it any further. Finally, after going to mass one winter Sunday in 2012, I felt a strong call from God, as if he were telling me that he was still here and would wait for me to be done with my excuses. The homily was about serving God’s flock and the priest asked who was willing to say yes to God’s call. I began to realize that I needed to answer that call.
What do you feel the role of the priest is?
The role of a priest is about service and serving the needs of God’s people. This discernment isn’t about me and my needs, but about the needs of the faithful and those who have yet to turn to God. It is about being a “bridge to Christ” for the faithful people of God.
What gifts will you bring to the priesthood?
Some of the gifts that I can bring to the priesthood are: listening and understanding, compassion and empathy, and a good sense of humor. I also have acquired other skills from various professions along the way. I have a teaching license and have been a high school AP history teacher; I’ve also gained skills in operating organizations such as Boy Scout camps, park and recreation departments and running a restaurant. The greatest gift I’ll bring is my love for Jesus and God.
What advice would you give to a man considering the priesthood/seminary?
Talk with your parish priest or a priest that you know about a possible vocation to the priesthood. I found it very helpful to talk with a few friends of mine who are ordained priests about their vocation and my calling.
Were you hesitant or nervous to take the first steps to enter the formation process?
I was very nervous about taking the first steps. This decision to enter the seminary and the formation process is a quite large, life altering decision, especially at the age of 45. I was nervous as to whether I would be capable of handling the course work (especially learning Latin) and returning to communal living. I had been out on my own for many years and returning to living with 190 plus seminarians was, and is, a huge lifestyle change. In the end, I realized that I had to follow the path that God had in mind for me, whatever that might be.