Meet Fr. Howe

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I am humbled and grateful to be called upon by Archbishop Hebda to serve the good people of the campuses that make up Holy Cross Catholic Church in Northeast Minneapolis. Even since before my priestly ordination in May 2013 I have understood that my priesthood would necessarily have a missionary bent as we live in a new apostolic age of challenge and opportunity.

I arrive as one of the younger (though not the youngest) pastor that our parish has known. The first pastor of Holy Cross Church, the Polish-born Fr. James Pacholski was assigned immediately upon his ordination in 1886 at the age of twenty-four! I serve in the footsteps of many priests who have dedicated themselves—imperfectly but valiantly—to the care of souls in this neighborhood. As a newcomer to a part of Minneapolis with deep history and traditions and a strong work ethic and emphasis on family life, I am delighted to be a part of doing something beautiful for God here, not just looking back to the glory days but also looking ahead to new promises and opportunities to hope for spiritual renewal in our day, in which Christian faith is increasingly marginalized and considered irrelevant or narrow-minded.

Perhaps a brief explanation of my coming to the conviction of a priestly call is in order. I was raised a charismatic Evangelical Lutheran (at North Heights in Arden Hills) and made a decision to become Catholic in 2001, drawn by what I have come to describe a hunger for the Eucharist. In addition to my parents who taught me the importance of prayerfully seeking the God’s will in my daily life, my maternal grandmother and a few joyful priests and women religious that I came to know impelled me to delve into our rich Catholic patrimony. During high school I had an unquenchable desire to understand my faith. Inspired by Jesus’ parable of the wise man building his house on rock, I wanted to discover the solid ground upon which I would be able to found my life to stand even through the storms that I knew would inevitably come.

I grew up in the northern suburbs and attended Mounds View High School, graduating in 2005. I have one older sister who is married and lives in Omaha, NE. My parents Jeffrey and Janette are active members of the Cathedral of St. Paul parish. My mother works as a nurse in South Minneapolis and my father, though retired, stays active and gives tours of the Cathedral. I should admit that my family ethnicity is mixed, but last I checked there was no Polish in it! I am something of a concoction of Flemish, Cuban, English and Irish ingredients.

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Growing up I enjoyed baseball, football, hiking, camping and biking. I played drums in a number of indie rock basement bands. In high school I also managed a small landscaping business called ‘Know Howe’ and discovered the rewards of honest, hard work. Although I was previously interested in architecture or engineering, I let go of trying to control the course of my life and in the fall of 2005 I entered St. John Vianney Seminary at St. Thomas where I studied Philosophy, Catholic Studies and Classical Languages. During those years I grew in my sense of being called into the apostolic mission of the priesthood. Ours is a missionary age and I wanted to take an active part in inviting people into true Christian discipleship. I could not ignore the zeal I felt welling up within my soul.

My adventure of preparing for priesthood continued at the heart of the Church. For five years I lived within the large English speaking community of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. On 25 May 2013, I was ordained a priest with nine other classmates. After ordination I returned to Rome for one final year of studies to finish a Licentiate degree in Church History and Ecclesiology. I wrote my thesis on the great English author, G.K. Chesterton’s conversion to Catholicism and his lifelong relationship with Italy. Beware as I am sometimes known to quote him!

My priestly assignments have included Divine Mercy in Faribault, St. John Neumann in Eagan, and Holy Name of Jesus near Wayzata. These previous pastoral assignments and formative experiences all converge on this assignment in Northeast Minneapolis which began July 2017. I come eager to continue learning. Along with the priests alongside whom I serve, I strive to dedicate myself to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments in Northeast at this particular moment of its history. Exciting things are afoot, even though the challenges of drawing people of all ages and backgrounds to Christ and the Church are also real and abundant. I hope you will find a home within our parish and join us in this vital mission.

Oremus pro invicem. Let us pray for each other.

Fr. Spencer Howe