By KATIE BORKOWSKI
The most-recently ordained priests for the Diocese of Sioux City shared their experiences from the first four months of their priesthood.
Father Andrew Galles and Father Matthew Solyntjes were ordained to the priesthood on June 3 at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City by Bishop Walker Nickless.
Father Galles, who is a parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Epiphany, reported being involved in many things he “never imagined.”
Father Galles acknowledged experiencing many joys when encountering parishioners in the various circumstances of their lives.
“My primary joy stems from celebrating the sacraments and meeting our parishioners through that intimate and meaningful medium,” he said. “This is particularly true for me when I am in the confessional and when I am privileged to feed our people with the Eucharist.”
Though there are joys, Father Galles has also experienced challenges.
“As I left seminary and entered the priesthood, it was a humbling experience to know that I was long on training and very short on experience,” he said. “Gaining practical experience is an ongoing challenge, as is meeting the particular ministerial needs of the Cathedral, such as continuing to learn Spanish.”
Father Galles expressed his gratitude for those who continue “to pray for me and support me in these first months of my priesthood. The generosity of the faithful in our diocese has allowed me to be where I am now.”
Gamut of joy
For Father Solyntjes, parochial vicar at All Saints in Le Mars and chaplain of Gehlen Catholic, the last few months of priesthood have been “excellent.”
“There’s little I can seriously complain about, and I wouldn’t change where I am if given the choice,” he said. “I feel welcomed at the parish and school, and there’s usually a variety of people to meet and things to do every day.”
Father Solyntjes has had the privilege to be part of many people’s lives at important times.
“These moments have run the gamut of joy from a marriage or baptism and even after a death or relationship trouble,” he said. “Happy times are straight forward, but it may seem odd that I find joy in times of someone’s difficulty. Joy enters the picture when people express faith and hope in God when emotions and the situation try to lead them toward despair instead.”
Father Solyntjes also enjoys his role as chaplain at Gehlen Catholic, which puts him in contact with children and teens who “I might not otherwise get to know, except in passing at Sunday Mass.”
“It is a different way for me to minister that I love by being in their domain during school, at sports or fine arts events,” he said. “I get hopeful for these kids to succeed as well-formed Catholics.”
A challenge for this priest is feeling guilty saying no to requests, though it is necessary with the limited hours in a day.
“It’s obvious that priests need to pray every day, but it doesn’t always come naturally,” said Father Solyntjes. “In the midst of busyness and distraction, I frequently need to remind myself to pause for God in prayer.”
To those considering the vocation of priesthood, Father Galles offered the words of Pope St. John Paul II, who said, “Be not afraid.”
“If you feel that you are called, take the leap of faith and speak with your pastor or Father Shane Deman (vocations director),” said the priest. “Trust in the still, small voice of God and allow yourself to be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.”
Father Solyntjes wanted to remind those discerning to not get worked up over “not seeing results in discerning God’s call.”
“Culturally, we’re obsessed with measuring progress and how good of a return we get from our money and time,” he said. “And the faster something gets done the better. God doesn’t work like that, though. Understanding God’s will for you happens slowly in the quiet of your heart.”