Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weeks 6 & 7 in Eufaula: Two Week Recap

Hello Blog-Followers...those of you that are left!!!

Sorry again for being delinquent these past couple weeks. As my experience has been winding down here in Eufaula, the activities seem to have been piling up. Father announced at Mass a couple weeks ago that my time here was growing short. He mentioned how we all love to procrastinate, and many probably have been procrastinating about inviting me over for supper. Consequently I have been spending most every evening since then visiting with a different family in the parish!!! And consequently, I would now like to publicly declare that the best cook in the parish is.....

Yea right....You think I am that crazy!?! Hahahaha.

Seriously, I have loved visiting with everyone. Thanks to you all for your hospitality and love for this parish.

Days are beginning to blur together....probably has something to do with the 100 degree heat...so the recap below will not be chronologically precise.

Matteush (Ma-Tay-Oosh):

After having more than likely butchered his name (However, the phonetic aid does, indeed, correspond to how he himself pronounces his name), I would like to present one of the newest seminarians to the Archdiocese of Mobile--Matteush. Matteush is from Poland--one of the most Catholic countries in the world. Matteush grew up on a farm in a small village in Poland. He is the first person from his village in anyone's memory to leave home to study for the priesthood. After finishing his studies in philosophy, Matteush felt called to be a missionary. So he came to the United States to study at a Polish Seminary in Detroit. From there, each Polish seminarian is recruited by various dioceses in the United States. Interestingly, Matteush and a friend of his were about set on another Southeastern diocese. However, one day Fr. Alex (the Vocations Director from Mobile, AL) came and gave a presentation about the Archdiocese of Mobile. Matteush met Fr. Alex briefly after his presentation. In the weeks that followed, Matteush describes feeling strongly called "for some reason" to reconsider and visit Mobile. Now he is one of our newest seminarians!!!

Funny how God works. How mysterious---from Polish Village to Detroit to Mobile, Alabama! Is there any logic to be discerned from such a journey? Is this completely random? Here are some verses that came to mind, which perhaps might provide us a bit of perspective.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:16)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Matteush came to visit Eufaula for the day with Fr. Alex. As Fr. Alex visited all of the different seminarians in their summer parish assigments, Matteush tagged along to get to know the diocese better....he has probably seen more of it than me now!!! Here we are again with the Gators--a staple in the 1st-Visit-Eufaula Tour.

Classic Summer Activity: Whitewashing a Fence

"Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. "

From Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Chapter Two, 1876.

Perhaps not quite as dismal, but this actually happened a couple weeks ago in Eufaula. The porch and brick wall in front of the Church office had not been whitewashed in quite some time. So one day, Father and I rounded up some of the guys from the Youth Group and did a little sprucing up.

B.J. and (Lil) Victor took one side.

Edgar and I took the other side. You can guess who's turned out better... :)

And Father took the porch. Notice the technique: Ladder to the side, standing on a railing, clinging to a banister....OSHA would be proud.

Big thanks to Edgar, BJ, Victor, and Sean. The wall looks better than ever...well at least better than the two months previously I have known it.

Fr. Den Irwin's Visit:

Fr. Den Irwin came from his new assignment in Troy, AL to spend the evening with Father and I a couple weeks back. Simple as the visit may have been...it was really one of those "Full Circle" moments for me. A little back story.

One summer, when I was in high school, (then) Den Irwin was a seminarian. Just like I am assigned to serve in Eufaula for the summer, Den was assigned to serve at Holy Spirit Church in Montgomery, AL--my home parish. I got to know Den a bit that summer. I was struck that he was a seemingly "normal" (I know now there is really no such thing...but I think you know what I mean) guy--could carry a conversation, went to Auburn, was in a Fraternity, worked as a camp counselor, liked to go hiking, etc. That simple reality, always stayed with me.

Five and a half years ago, I was a Junior at Furman University in Greenville, SC. I was really struggling with my call to the priesthood. During Christmas Break, I was back in Montgomery chatting with my Dad about all of this. As a starting point, my Dad suggested that I call (then) Fr. Irwin and seek advice.

You see, Den is from Montgomery as well. My Dad is an Oral Surgeon and his Dad is an orthodontist. So they have known one another for a long time. Plus, my Dad knew that I had met Den that summer and that Den was recently ordained.

Nonetheless, I resisted my Dad's suggestion saying that it would just be "too weird" and that Fr. Den probably wouldn't remember me. Nonetheless, my Dad called Den's dad and got Fr. Den's cell phone number. Now I was stuck!

I'll never forget sitting on my bed for like an hour trying to muster up the gall to call. I felt like the conversation was going to bring some kind of life-shattering wisdom and I wanted to be somewhat prepared for the impact.

Finally pulling myself together, I stammered out the 7 digits and made the call. A couple rings and I heard,


Me: "Uh. Hello. My name is Victor Ingalls. Uhhhh. I'm not sure if you remember me, but you were at Holy Spirit about four summers back and we met a couple times."

Den: "O.....OK...Yea...Sure."

Me: "Yea....Well...I think that maybe God wants me to be a priest...and I was hoping you could give me some advice."

My inner monologue: "askdbfkjzbxvjyuagf----O great!!! I'm an idiot. Wait....I put it out there...Here comes the life shattering wisdom...."

Den: "O OK. Well you should probably give Fr. Alex a call. He is the Vocations Director. Hold on a sec, let me get his number."

My inner monologue: "THAT'S IT!#!@#$%^&*????"

Me right now: Hahahahahahahaha

We exchanged a couple more words and said our goodbyes. My mind was blown. I was not sure what had just happened. I was expecting my life to be shattered and remolded in an instant. And all I got was another number! Had I just tasted failure? Denial? What? I did my best to shake it off, and went on with my day.

The next day, Fr. Irwin called me back on my cellphone. He had some time to process my Totally-Out-Of-Left-Field-Phone-Call from the day before, and wanted to follow up. He was coming into Montgomery later on in the week and invited me to meet him at Holy Spirit for Mass and then breakfast.

That morning was one of the biggest reliefs of my life. Mass was great. Breakfast was great. He patiently sat there while I babbled out my inner-monologue and past 6-7 years of struggle with an apparent call to be a priest.

That morning led to a call to Fr. Alex the next day.

That call led to conversations with the Archbishop and other priests.

That led me to ask Fr. Alex and Archbishop Lipscomb if I could spend the upcoming summer in a parish somewhere and really find out what priests do from day to day. I felt called to be a priest. But practically speaking, had no idea what they did outside of Sundays. My one caveat was that, I did not want to be in a parish in Montgomery....too many strings from my "former life." I felt I needed some space.

That led Fr. Alex and Archbishop Lipscomb to set me up with a summer internship at St. Columba Catholic Church in Dothan, AL. At that time, Fr. Den Irwin was assigned there as the Assistant to the Pastor.

Here comes the FULL CIRCLE.....

One day that summer, Fr. Den and I traveled to a new destination--EUFAULA, ALABAMA to visit a certain Fr. David Shoemaker at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. We spent the afternoon with him, two seminarians, and another visiting priest.

That summer convinced me that I needed to go to seminary and at least try it out.

That has led me to 4 years in seminary.

And now 5 years later, it was Fr. Irwin that came to visit ME and Fr. Shoemaker in Eufaula!

And THAT is what I meant when I said his visit was a "FULL CIRCLE MOMENT." Marinate on that for awhile. As you do so, I refer myself and you at this moment to the same three verses cited earlier.

FULL CIRCLE MOMENT in Eufaula with Fr. Den


One day, Father asked me to train the three newest altar serving recruits: Hunter and Birch (brothers, one year apart) and Joseph. It was fun to show them the ropes....and they showed a lot of promise. Especially impressive was the intensity and zeal with which they approached "bell-ringing." Making loud noises is something I have found that most boys....well men enjoy.

Look how enthralled they are by my instruction! haha

Wonder if I will ever get a call from them down they road? More Full Circle Moments on the horizon? Again, I refer to the three verses quoted previously.

Summer Gathering:

Tomorrow after Mass, Father and I will be traveling down to Orange Beach, for the annual Seminarian Summer Gathering. Every summer, for about 4-5 days, all of the seminarians get together at the beach with the Bishop and Vocation Directors. It is a time to get to know one another better (as we are spread out over 4 or 5 different seminaries), strengthen our friendships, kick back, and meet with the Bishop. Each seminarian has a private meeting with the bishop in which you talk about the past year, your progress, where you need to grow, strengths, weaknesses, upcoming year, etc. It is a blast. We will drive back on Saturday just in time for the Masses in Union Springs.


Consequently, last Saturday was my last opportunity lead my class with the kids in Union Springs. My mom baked some cookies and helped me gather a bunch of snacks to throw a "Last Class" bash to close out the summer. It was bittersweet spending the time with them. I will really miss our Saturday afternoons together.

Here is a shot of us all together after Mass this past Saturday evening.

Eat your heart out....

Another Look at Fr. "Snow"maker (I just came up with that...not bad hunh???)

Just so that you can appreciate a bit more, Fr. Showmaker's zeal for Christmas...here is a further look into this unique part of his ministry.

Reading to a class of kids

Fr. Snowmaker...making dreams come true

The dream that came true!

The dreamS that came true

Visiting the Nursing Home

At the Public Library

Doing was Santa does best

How many months 'til Christmas???

Hope that gets you in the Spirit!

Well, that catches ya'll up a bit on what has been going on this past week. It really has been a rich time here in Eufaula! I am so thankful for this assignment for so many reasons. What a great reminder of what it is all about....of why God has called me to this life...of how it all began!!!

I will post again in a week with details about the Seminarian Gathering and my last couple days here in Eufaula.

May you be blessed this week....richly blessed!


This is one of the many different "Santa Claus Societies" to which Father belongs. Fr. David has been on the board of this organization more or less since its inception. It's mission is unique and inspiring: (taken from their website)
Santa America is a national volunteer service organization with a very special
mission. Over one-hundred Santas across America visit children and families in crisis. Santa Claus visits when a child or family needs him—twelve months a year—bringing love, hope and joy to special needs children in a loving visit of about an hour at home, hospital, or hospice.

Santa's visits are free. There is no charge for a visit from Santa Claus—ever.

Love, Hope, and Joy

Don't forget my HandleBar-Mustached Collegue--Steven Vrazel. Finishing up his summer assignment in Wetumpka, AL.

After all this talk about "Full Circle Moments" and people hearing the call to priesthood....I thought...well....you might very well be stammering through the "foolishness of God" right now. And even if you aren't....check out this site...it is pretty well done and will give you all the contact information you need. As well you can check out all of the other guys studying to be priest's for the Archdiocese of Mobile.


Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

Signing Off:

Aiight ya'll. Be Good. Be Blessed. Be Aware of that wisdom which is CALLING in your life. Deeper into the Mystery of His Love. Deeper into all the is real...all that is lasting....all that is worthwhile.

Sounds nice hunh?

Let's pray for one another. Let me know if there is anything specific I can be offering up.



Full-Circle Love.


1 comment:

  1. Wow victor this is really awesome!! what a story the one with Fr. Den!! I pray that you get what you want from your journey, which is serve God and His church. It has been a joy to have you in our parish as well. You really energized our youth program. God be with you always...
    PS: Gary and I will be in Rome sometimes in Dec. I will be visiting a friend.