A Message from Fr. Dennis Saran
William Shakespeare said, some are born into change, some achieve change, and others have change thrust upon them. Well, not quite in those words. No matter how ordered we condition our lives, we all experience change thrust upon us. It is not easy. No one wants to change. This difficulty with change is not unique to human beings.
Isaac Newton perhaps said it best in his first law of motion, “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
Well, the archdiocese has exerted an external force to St. Dominic Catholic Parish, and I was chosen to be your next pastor. I come having experienced a great amount of change in my life, and in humility, and compassion. I hope to become a member of your family.
We are all called to conversion; to give up our pride and self- centeredness and to become closer to God. We are all called to transformation; to change. The uneasiness we feel with change is a tension, and tension is a creative force. Holding both “what was” with “what is” is life giving, and giving life is the purpose of our worship and the purpose of our faith: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
I ask that we help each other “turn around” towards Jesus. God is limitless and he/ she is not done with you or I yet. Conversion is a process; not a goal, not an endpoint. It is also not a process of one-size-fits–all. Each of us is called by God, when God, and how God, feels like it.
I was called by God at an early age. I served as an altar boy throughout grade school and well into my high school years. I was interested in being a priest, but I was more interested in being better than my older brother…and I liked girls and could not imagine not being married.
I abandoned any thoughts of priesthood during my college experience studying Biomedical Engineering in hopes of admission to medical school, like my brother.
He didn’t let me forget him, as I found solitude and peace at our Neumann Center at Northwestern University. By the time I was graduating, I had been attending Mass most evenings. I was accepted at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, as my brother had been, and entered once again with no thoughts of serving the Lord.
After medical school, I married in the hopes of companionship, moved from home to a new state, a new job, with a new wife. But marrying for friendship and to avoid being alone doesn’t work, and my marriage lasted six years. During those six years, new home, new wife, new job…I abandoned Church.
My divorce changed my life and was exceedingly painful, but during those dark days, I returned to Church. I devoted my life to my children. I would spend my entire energy being a good father. I petitioned for an annulment. The day I learned my annulment had been granted, I felt that God held me once again. I met another wounded soul, and together we offered each other healing. We married and started the process of a mixed family. There were trials and joys… more joys than sorrows. I would strive to remain a good father.
My wife’s mother and aunt moved in with us ten years into our marriage. My oldest daughter was in college, two others were on the way. I started to write letters to express my love for my daughters. Being much wiser than I, they remarked the letters were not meant for them, but were love letters to God. I continued to write, to read, to explore, to “turn around.” For the next six years, through digesting the writings of many saints, I was drawn to a relationship with God, one of intimacy but without direction.
One year before my wife’s illness, we mused that if anything would happen to her, I would want to be a priest. In one year, my aunt and my wife both died of cancer.
God waited, and now he walked with me. Within a year, I was admitted to the seminary to be a priest.
The scariest part of change of conversion is realizing that God can work on you whenever, and in whatever way he chooses.
My story is one of change, one of conversion, one of a heart broken, and now is broken open for you, my new beloved family of St Dominic.