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When he was a student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, he helped American Bald eagles soar into the blue skies of Kansas. But starting July 1, Raven Priest Father Paul Clark will have a new job, helping vocations soar to the heavens.
Father Clark has been named the new Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo. He starts July 1.
That means he will move to St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia, Mo., and serve as parochial vicar there. He will continue as part-time chaplain at Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia and will serve as diocesan moderator of youth and young adult ministry.
“These new assignments reflect our best efforts to make the most effective use of our priestly resources while we continue tilling the soil for a new springtime in our local Church,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
Father Clark said that Benedictine College’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship was crucial to his development as a priest.
“I was part of a research team that partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers on a two-year project to catalog the vegetative growth of cottonwood stands along the Missouri River in an effort to protect the ideal habitat for the American Bald Eagle,” he said.
Today, bald eagles are often spotted on or near Benedictine College’s campus.
“To this day, I still speak with pride about the research opportunities within our Biology department,” he added. “Not only because of the sound scientific methods employed and taught, but also the important research gathered that can lead to better methods of stewardship and care for God’s creation.”
He said biology might seem a strange major for a future priest, but it’s not.
“People often laugh when they hear that my first degrees were biology and secondary education, as opposed to theology or something more ‘priestly,’” he said. “But I am extremely grateful for the formation.”
“To have experienced teaching scenarios and develop classroom methods has helped my homiletic and catechetical ministry, and the ability to grow in an understanding of the natural world and scientific method has provided me a better understanding of our God and his attributes,” he said.
The strong emphasis on community at Benedictine College was eye-opening for Father Paul.
“I’m passionate about authentic relationships — willing the good of another in a real relationship — but it’s a struggle. Benedictine provided a space for me to learn about the whole human person and our hearts’ desire for communion,” he said.
Last, the school’s faith formation was decisive, he said.
“There were opportunities for me to give of myself and serve others, as well as figuring out how to let others support me in return,” he said. “I do believe each person I encountered in the Benedictine community has taught me something about fostering authentic relationships, based on the good of others and directed to the glory of God.”