l e h e m Aca d e m
Fr. Luke Marquard ’97
“I only hope to be a holy, humble, obedient, faithful, and joyful priest.”
Archbishop John Nienstedt lays his hands on then-Deacon Marquard during the Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood.
On May 25, 2013, BA alumnus Luke Marquard ’97 was ordained as a Catholic priest. His journey to the priesthood was not the straight forward path that you might think. You will see as by what follows, however, that his journey was probably the best way for Father Marquard to know, without a doubt, that he is now where he has been called to be. During Luke’s senior year in high school, Archbishop Flynn was in the custom of annually inviting one boy and one girl from every Catholic high school in the diocese to his residence for dinner. Luke was selected as the male representative from Bethlehem Academy. At that dinner the Archbishop told him that he reminded him of a priest he knew from New York. Luke didn’t think much of the comment at the time. About two weeks later, however, he received a letter from the Archbishop, in which he thanked Luke for joining him for dinner, and he also included some pictures of the New York priest, along with a note that read as follows: “This is what you’re going to look like when you’re older.” His immediate reaction was, “Oh, man! That means I’m going to look like a priest when I’m older!” The idea didn’t make much sense to Luke, as he stated, “I had a girlfriend, was in a terrible rock band and my college plans were already in place.” Little did he then know at that time that it was an idea that he would never be able to shake.
Father Luke Marquard, happy to answer a call he found impossible to shake.
Luke did, however, try shake it for about 10 years, pursuing interests and careers that he thought made more sense. “The Lord was very good to me during these years, allowing me enough freedom to explore what I thought best, but never allowing me to stray too far from Him,” said Father Marquard. He studied journalism at Butler University in Indianapolis and remained in that city doing public relations and marketing work for a large insurance company. Though he enjoyed the work, it ultimately left
him unsatisfied. Luke felt the call to do something more, and the priesthood emerged as the answer to this call. Yet he wasn’t ready. He opted instead to take a job writing, editing, and designing a quarterly magazine and other publications for a non-profit organization in Chicago, staying there for about four years. “The work and the city were fascinating to me,” said Luke. In time, however, he recognized that the satisfaction he felt didn’t penetrate very deeply. Though enjoyable, this was not where the Lord wanted him to be. Priesthood again emerged, but he tried to shake it one more time. Luke’s next move was to the Alliance of Catholic Education (ACE), a program out of the University of Notre Dame. In this program, students take master’s level courses during the summer months and teach in under-resourced Catholic schools during the academic year. He taught in Denver, and his time in this program was instrumental to his openness to the priesthood. For one thing, he was surrounded by peers who were supportive and excited about the idea of the priesthood. “This was a new experience for me and gave me confidence to be more open about it,” said Luke. In addition, his time in the religion classroom helped him better understand the beauty of our faith and his desire to teach it. Also, during his time in Denver, he made the Lenten resolution to attend daily Mass and to frequently participate in the sacrament of Penance. Through these practices, the Lord made clear to Luke that his next move should be to the seminary. When the program ended, he entered pre-theology at The Saint Paul Seminary. “Almost immediately, I knew a deep peace and satisfaction that had been absent in my previous pursuits. During my time of formation, I grew to appreciate more and more the great gift of the priesthood, and was drawn closer and closer to Jesus Christ,” said Father Marquard. While in the seminary, he strove hard to be a well spoken, well read priest with good leader-
ship abilities. As time moved forward, however, he learned that these initial characteristics could certainly be helpful, but, more importantly, as he puts it, “A model priest was one of deep prayer and fidelity, a man who knows Jesus Christ and desires that others know Him as well.”
Fathers Kevin Finnegan and Erik Lundgren with Deacon Luke Marquard at Divine Mercy Catholic Church following Deacon Marquard’s first Mass as a Deacon on May 6, 2012. When asked if he had a “bucket list” of things that he hopes to accomplish while being a priest, Father Marquard replied, “I only hope to be a holy, humble, obedient, faithful, and joyful priest. During the ordination I promised obedience to Archbishop Nienstedt and his successors; I have been ordained for service to the local church. There is great freedom in this obedience and service because I don’t have to come up with a “bucket list.”” Father Marquard credits Father Kevin Finnegan for playing an important role in bringing him into the priesthood, stating, “Though I was away from Faribault, and had no history with him, Father Finnegan was generous in his availability and support. Whenever I would come home to visit, he was quick to invite me to spend
time with him, to answer questions about the priesthood, and to share his joy in the vocation. Additionally, he introduced me to the Companions of Christ (a group of diocesan priests with a commitment to a common life of prayer and fraternity in households; observance of the evangelical counsels within the context of ordained diocesan ministry; and dedication to the new evangelization, including catechesis, spiritual renewal, and the fostering of vocations in the local Church), for which I am grateful. My time with the Companions has helped me to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ, to recognize the vital importance of priestly fraternity, and to see the beauty in the Evangelical Counsels.” When asked about his fondest BA memory, Father Marquard happily recalls, “I have several, and many of them involve grilling delicious meats at various athletic events. I very much appreciated the interaction across grade levels; the opportunities to be involved with athletics, arts, ministry, and student government; the solid friendships built through the years; and the dedication of the teachers (some of whom are still serving at the school).” Following his ordination, Father Marquard has now been assigned to be the parochial vicar at Epiphany Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. When asked how things are going with his new assignment, he cheerfully states, “I’ve only been in the parish for a little more than one week, and things are going very well. Just one morning of hearing confessions and celebrating Mass makes the several years of uncertainty, as well as the several more years of formation and studies, worth the while. It is good to be a priest!” We at Bethlehem Academy are both proud and pleased that Father Marquard was able to confidently answer his calling into the priesthood. We pray that other men such as he find the courage to answer the call once it is received and understood. Our blessings to you, Father Luke Marquard!
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