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A rural Kansas parish has been making headlines because its young pastor wanted to celebrate with his flock even when they are all stuck at home.
Father Nathan Haverland is a “Raven priest” was named the Outstanding Young Alumnus of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, last year and gave a speech about how Benedictine College changed his life.
Now, as pastor St. Gregory the Great Parish in Marysville and St. Malachy in nearby Beattie, he is in the news for his approach to celebrating Mass with his parishioners.http://theleaven.org/rural-pastor-celebrates-mass-with-his-parishioners/
“He asked parishioners to send him a digital photo of their families,” reported The Leaven. “He then printed the pictures, one per piece of paper. Then, he taped them to the pews in St. Gregory Church.”
About 500 photos now fill the church so that it is full of the people who would normally be there, but can only watch online.
“I got this idea from a post I saw on social media about a priest in the hard-hit area of Italy who asked his parishioners to send in pictures for him to print and put in the pews,” he told The Leaven. “When I saw that post, I knew that was what I needed to do!”
“As tragic as this is,” he continued, “I can’t help but think of all the amazing fruit that’s coming from this situation. Families are spending more time together than they ever have, and people are longing to go to church more than they ever have.”
Haverland is a Benedictine graduate from 2005 who once wanted to be an astronaut and did post-graduate studies in nuclear engineering. He had no faith when he came to Benedictine College.
“Sunday was just another weekend day, just another Saturday,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about God.”
That all changed at Benedictine. During his junior year, Haverland took a Theology course that changed his life. He said it was the point at which he started falling in love with the Church. Later that year, he was baptized and confirmed and received his First Communion.
“It was very beautiful — it was the beginning of my life as a Catholic,” he said. “I still never would have imagined that I would be a priest at that point.”
He received a scholarship to the University of Michigan, one of the top nuclear engineering programs in the country. But he wanted more. He talked to Kansas City-Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann, went to seminary and was ordained in 2013. Since he had no childhood parish, he was able to offer his first Mass at St. Benedict’s Abbey, where he had been confirmed just nine years before.
Benedictine College is using the hashtag #RavensWillRise to mark its stories of hope in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Father Haverland as a rural pastor, shares the sense that the lockdown will bring about a spiritual awakening.
“I can’t help but think of the many saints that have come before us who have lived during some really tragic times like this,” he told The Leaven. “Instead of shying away in fear, they rose to the occasion with their talents and creativity to somehow make humanity better and get through those challenging times.
“I have always looked up to them in admiration. And now I realize that we have the opportunity to do the same.”