Fr. John Eckert, a priest of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, ordained in 2010 continues his discussion with Sr. Joseph Andrew about the priesthood and the value and complementarity of Religious Sisters to that most sublime vocation.
Fr. John Eckert: I’ve been by myself, in my parish now for the last year and a half. I’m with (my parishioners) I’m their shepherd and we’re in this together. And so every Sunday you’re there with them in the joys and the sorrows; you get the ups and the downs of the week.
I brought one man into the Church the day before he passed away, and actually in that week, (I had) three funerals and three baptisms. So it’s not just like the cycle of life, sort of like, Oh, it’s happy. It’s that you get to participate in the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ; in very palpable, real incarnational ways. Every single day, all over the place. And that’s where our prayer life is absolutely crucial.
I have to set my schedule and I have to hold myself accountable to it. And so what I do is an about an hour and fifteen minutes before the first Mass of the day, I’m in the church to make a holy hour.
I like to say I was in Catholic schools from the time I was three in preschool until I graduated seminary at twenty-eight. And you’re always being evaluated because people tell you what they think right away, but it’s like if I don’t make my daily holy hour and it’s been a week, the Bishop doesn’t call me up and say, ‘why aren’t you been praying?’
(Celibacy) is a sacrifice, but if you try to take away the sacrifice, well, then you end up taking away the resurrection. It’s true.
How do we save the Church? I don’t think ever it’s “well, we need to lessen the obligations.” No, nobody wants that, what you want is something that’s worth laying your whole life down for. Is that hard? Yes, it’s hard, but it’s so worth it and every day.
Is there a little bit of biting loneliness sometimes? Sure, (but) I could be with people all the time. It doesn’t mean you’re never going to be lonely, but the beautiful thing is, it may remind us that we’re made for eternity.
We’re made for heaven. What do you do with that loneliness? You welcome our Lord into it. He goes off by himself to the mountain to pray all the time in scripture. And I feel like our life is about making that known to the world.
I’ve given up a wife and children, is that a good thing? Yes, it is. It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s worth it. To make that sacrifice for the love of Jesus Christ and his Church, and to get to live that out on a day-to-day level. It’s so exciting! It’s an adventure!
Sr. Joseph Andrew: Would you please end our podcast with a prayer father?
Fr. John Eckert: Absolutely. And I’ll tell you, I think the perfect prayer to end anything with is just thanking God by praying Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
Sr. Joseph Andrew: Thank you. Thank you.