Learning to be a Priest with Fr. Paul
For almost every seminarian a part of our formation is serving as Pastoral Intern at a parish very different than the one we grew up in. For me that meant serving with Fr. Paul Strittmatter at the parishes of St. Patrick in Dunlap, IA and Sacred Heart in Woodbine, IA.
I will never forget the lessons that Fr. Paul taught me about being a priest. Like all of us he was imperfect, and had his idiosyncrasies, like getting two haircuts a year one for Christmas, one for Easter, but he strove to bring Christ to all people.
Often we would travel together in his Geo Metro down the dirt and gravel roads of rural Iowa to visit someone far off the beaten path. There was one woman in particular who you could tell rarely got any visitors expect for Fr. Paul. Her house was a mess, and the cats seemed to have taken over, but none of that bothered Fr. Paul. All he cared about was bringing Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, to this one woman who so many others had forgotten about.
That is one lesson about the priesthood that will never leave my heart. Much like Jesus himself, we as priests are not here for the righteous, but we are here to seek out the broken, the forgotten, those who are suffering, those who are struggling with their sinfulness, and we are to bring the love, the healing, the heart of Jesus Christ.
In his life Fr. Paul strove to do just that. At this time of great sorrow our prayers go out to Fr. Paul and to his immediate and church families. We pray that he will now know for all eternity the love he shared here on earth.
Thank you for sharing this story. I know those of us from Dunlap are shaken by this loss, Fr. Paul will always be in our hearts. His unconditional love has touched so many, we all can learn something from him. We will always love and miss you Father Paul; I will forever be thankful that you were part of my life.
I had the privilege to grow up with Fr Paul at Sacred Heart in Woodbine, IA. He truly touched my life and showed me the power of God in so many ways. He was deeply loved and respected by my family and many families in the community. He always took the time to visit with me every time I returned to Woodbine. I will never forget his kindness and generosity. He will be greatly missed.