Diary of a Mountain Priest: God’s favorites

Fr Vince Kuna, CSC vested by his pastor Fr Bob Epping, CSC at Ordination

Fr. Vince Kuna, C.S.C., checks in this month with another of his characteristically funny, yet deep reflections on his life and ministry as a parish priest in Colorado Springs.

Most students at St. Mary’s High School like Father’s faux-hawk. They should. What a treat it must be to have the clerical version of David Villa come to your classroom once a month to teach you about God. And to have each lecture punctuated with a reminder that God loves each of them deeply and equally, but that Fr. Vince is His favorite…truly grand.

Since my transitional diaconate year, my absolute favorite non-sacramental ministry is teaching at St. Mary’s, the lone Catholic high school in town. Whether teaching freshmen or seniors, I try to keep things lively by combining my typical, dry humor with an obvious passion for the subject matter: Jesus Christ and His Church. I vary the topics from year-to-year, and in fact, I only repeat my beginning of the year lecture on salvation history. I explain salvation history to be intimately intertwined with our own history. On the middle of a timeline written across the dry-erase board are two perfectly vertical lines. One represents the Incarnation: God’s perfect self-emptying. The second line remembers Jesus Christ’s perfect response: his passion, death and resurrection. The other dates in religious and secular history before or after the Incarnation and life of Christ either move towards or away from the central lines. The Maccabees story (165 B.C.) of the family of brothers enduring martyrdom because they won’t eat pork and disobey God’s commands. Really good. Line moving towards. WWII and the Holocaust from 1939-45. Really bad. Line moving away.

Fr Vince Kuna accepting the offering at his Ordination

At the end of the timeline are two dates without an explanation, 1977 and 1996. I ask the kids what significant thing happened in 1977? (They can’t answer: “The Yankees won the World Series” or “Notre Dame football won the national title”.) Sometimes, I get a bright young student to answer that Pope John Paul II was elected. Close. He was actually elected in 1978, and something even greater happened in 1977. I meet the glazed looks with the declaration that I was born that year. Over the laughter that inevitably ensues, I say that my line is a work in progress, it can move towards or away from the Incarnation depending on my response to God’s grace. When I ask what happened in the year 1996, they know the point of the lecture by now. “We were all born.” Yep. And the moments the students make little historical events in their lives should reflect the bigger, historical events of God's Incarnation and Resurrection. For God has given them life and loves them all equally. Their lives should respond to his graces so that they might all be his favorites.

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