Monday, November 18, 2013

Vocations Spotlight: Fr. Kyle Sanders, Part 2

Happy Vocations Monday, everyone! I'm not certain when I will post another installment in this series, but I do hope to do it again. My little mind is all awhirl with plans on this, trust me.
Today we revisit Fr. Kyle Sanders, a priest in the archdiocese of New Orleans. Read Part 1 of his story here, in which we learn about his discernment process toward becoming ordained as a diocesan priest. In Part 2, I asked Father about some specifics about his priestly ministry and prayer life. Do read on!

What has been your favorite experience so far as part of your priestly ministry?

Other than hearing confessions for extended periods during (Franciscan University of) Steubenville conferences, it would have to be celebrating mass on the bones of Sts Simon and Jude in St. Peter's Basilica. 

What has been the most challenging part of being a priest?

Because the priest is such a means of the grace of the Father, Satan hates him with extraordinary disgust. Dealing with greater reminders of my own brokenness through constant temptations and subtle lies has been the most difficult and naïvely unexpected thing for me. The great thing about that is that the Father uses those instances to continue to humble me. The crucible is no fun, but due to faith and hope I can see the pure metal of my soul being forged.

What is one unique thing about you and/or your ministry that readers would find interesting?

My best friend is my sister. We grew up three years apart, and when we were young, I was the typical 'forceful' older brother. Before I went off to seminary, I knew I wouldn't be able to influence her as much especially with regards to faith. She was hanging around friends that weren't trouble makers, but who I could tell were focused squarely not on Christ, but on the world. That worried me, so I forced her to come to youth group with me, and she sat there arms folded, uninterested. Eventually though, she returned, and became an active member there and her faith blossomed. She worked in the office of the Catholic church on her college campus. After college, she became a missionary with FOCUS. In her three years as a missionary, her faith and prayer life grew exponentially. She now lives back home and works with a youth ministry company. She is constantly building up my faith as my ministry is building up her.

Can you describe your prayer routine and how you balance it amongst your other responsibilities?

Why you gotta go and do that!? Hee hee. This is something I'm still struggling with due to the change from the high structured life of seminary to the highly unstructured life of a diocesan priest. So I will give you what it is my desire to do everyday, but I often do not meet my plan. I'll wake early enough drink a cup of coffee while praying the first hour of the liturgy of hours, take a shower, and then do my Holy Hour. Sometime midday-ish I'll pray midday prayer. Then in the evening I'll get evening prayer in somewhere. Then after everything is done. I'll do 15 minutes of spiritual reading followed by night prayer. That's my goal but I often fall short, and now everyone knows. :-/

Yeah, so the balance is what I struggle with because I tend to focus on one thing at a time and forget about other things when I'm in that task or activity.

Many Catholics do not frequently avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How do you prepare to administer this sacrament, and how would you advise Catholics who wish to return to this sacrament after many years away?

To prepare, I usually pray for the grace to be open to the Holy Spirit and ask Our Lady of Sorrows for help and guidance.

I'm not there to judge, despite previous bad experiences my end is bringing them freedom and new life. I would often tell my experience of confession especially after a really rough time I had during my high school years. People will often here laughter in my confessional. I make jokes and laugh not to trivialize the sacrament but rather to make the penitent comfortable and help them to realize that  that choice was laughable comparable to the Lord.

What is one way in which Pope Francis has had a positive influence on your ministry since his election?
(1) I need to be more person-centered in my daily interactions. The theology I learned from JP II, but I was still too young to learn from his actions. I'm learning that from Francis. 

(2) I need to spend more time with the poor and broken of my parish. 

I just wanted to hug Fr. Kyle after reading his comments on prayer. :-) I think we can all SO relate to what Father is saying, no? We are all human and struggle with concentration and making time for prayer. Not a single person is exempt from this. It is easy to think that our own struggle must mean that there is something wrong with us - the answer is quite the contrary.

And laughter in the confessional? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Of course, the sacrament is a solemn thing, but relating to people and making them comfortable is *key* to them availing themselves of the sacrament again! I find this absolutely delightful.

Many, many thanks to Fr. Kyle for participating in Vocations Spotlight and sharing his journey of faith with us at Life of a Catholic LibrarianTo keep up with Fr. Kyle and his ministry, sign up to subscribe to his blog, Reverenced Reading, and/or follow him on Twitter, his handle is @colonel4God. Send him a tweet to let him know your thoughts on his interview!

*Photo courtesy of artur84, at

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