Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Vocational Journey: Mark Bentz

By Mark Bentz, Transitional Deacon, Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon

I’ve glimpsed God’s love for us and want to spread it to everyone I meet. As I look to ordination, I see myself doing what the Church asks of her priests: faithfully celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and proclaiming the Gospel with zeal.

I’ve had a lot of experience with youth ministry as well as public speaking and theater, so I know that I will emphasize preaching and youth work in the parish. I also look forward to leading parish bible studies on the Old Testament to help awaken faith in people’s lives.

My pastoral year at St. Mary, Star of the Sea in Astoria, Oregon, and a summer spent at St. Joseph’s in Salem, Oregon, showed me the demands on a parish priest and the need to be flexible. In Astoria I served in a small coastal parish with a Catholic school that had to close. The experience was powerful. I mourned the loss of an institution with the community and helped the pastor comfort the community and bring healing. In Salem, I served in the largest parish in the archdiocese and saw the need for layers of organization and structure. Both parishes helped form me.

I’ve been in four different formation environments in the last nine years—Franciscan University of Steubenville’s “Priestly Discernment” program, Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, The American College of Louvain in Belgium, which recently closed, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Each program contributed a piece of who I am today. In hindsight, I find each assignment I was asked to pursue helped me become the man God wants me to be. I’ve learned to trust God and others. I’ve also learned that when we give God our life and our will, he gives them back to us more abundantly than we ever could have imagined.

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