Father Chad VanHoose, the new priest at St. Jude of the Lake Catholic Church in Mahtomedi, didn't always plan on being a priest.

His call into the ministry was a gradual one as he grew in deeper discipleship, he noted. He graduated from nursing school in 2005 but was led into youth missions work with NET (National Evangelism Teams) Ministries, which is headquartered in Minnesota. He worked with middle and high school students at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Fairbault.

After several years of growing closer to Jesus and seeing what a life of ministry looks like, he just knew he was called to the priesthood. “It was discerning an invitation of the Lord for greater discipleship in my life,” he noted. “At that time, I was praying and asking and felt an invitation even stronger from Jesus to be an instrument to show his healing and love.”

VanHoose said he is just a normal person who comes from a normal family and has normal interests. Sometimes, people can overthink what makes a priest a priest, he noted. “I think some people think that priests are just born priests, that they just come of the womb with a collar on,” he explained. “Apart from my ministry, I am just a disciple of Jesus as well, living my life in the world.”

He has flaws and weaknesses like everyone else and is just loving Jesus as best he can, he added. “I am very approachable; I am just a normal person,” he said.

He attended seminary at St. Paul Seminary, on the University of St. Thomas campus. He was ordained two years ago. His first assignment from the archbishop was to be an associate pastor at All Saints Catholic Church in Lakeville. He knew he would be there a few years. After two years, he was asked to become the next priest at St. Jude of the Lake Catholic Church in Mahtomedi.

He began in July and moved into the rectory next to the parish. He lives with two other priests who are part of the Companions of Christ priestly fraternity. He has been enjoying getting to know the parish. “I've enjoyed just the warmth of the community,” he said. “We are a community of disciples. … We love Jesus and we want others to love him as well and experience that healing through the church.”

VanHoose acknowledged that the Catholic Church has gone through a lot in the last few years. He wants to bring mending. “I want it to be a place of healing, welcome and love,” he said. “I hope they find in me a loving shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.”

VanHoose was given a kayak by his former parish and has been enjoying taking it out on White Bear Lake, he added. He enjoys the Minnesota outdoors, playing frisbee and traveling to visit family and friends in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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