Brian Straus ordained deaconBy: J.B. Kelly Springfield MO
Bishop Edward M. Rice celebrated the Rite of Ordination of Brian J. Straus to the Sacred Order of Deacon on Friday evening, May 19, in St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield. Hundreds of family, friends, and faithful were in attendance, including many diocesan priests and permanent deacons who participated in the liturgy.
The Mirror interviewed Rev. Mr. Brian Straus:
TM: First, tell us a little bit about your upbringing/family life in a Catholic home.
Rev. Mr. Straus: My family has always been Catholic and faithfully attended Mass in our home parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Springfield). We always shared family prayer at meals, at night, and praying the rosary. I’m grateful for the environment of prayer and devotion I had at home, and in the Parish School of Religion classes I benefitted from while attending public school. However, my faith took on a more personal and vibrant character through “The Happening” Retreat for high-schoolers that I attended at Immaculate Conception in Springfield. This experience sparked my personal and intellectual relationship with God in my life, and prepared me to grow deeper in my faith in college.
TM: When did you first have an inkling you were called to the priesthood?
Rev. Mr. Straus: I first thought about the priesthood when I was a freshman in college at the Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla. I felt a very strong calling. I had been growing deeper in my faith at the campus Newman Center, and I found the thought of seminary and priesthood attractive. But in discernment with my pastor and with my vocation director, Fr. J. Friedel, I realized the time was not right to enter seminary yet: God wanted me to keep discerning. I kept listening for the calling from God through my college years, and after working for a year, I recognized it was time to answer the call and follow God into the seminary.
[Editor’s Note: Straus graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering; he entered Pre-Theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, in 2012.]
TM: What has most benefited you while in seminary formation and studies?
Rev. Mr. Straus: First of all, there’s the environment in seminary of committed prayer in the seminary, which helped me incorporate silence and meditation into my life. I didn’t know what I was missing until I began to experience this structure in seminary. This has been foundational for truly listening for God’s will and living in fruitful relationship with Him day-to-day. I began to realize that every Christian is able to, with a little guidance, achieve this habit of fruitful prayer in their life. Secondly, the rich intellectual formation I experienced while in seminary has given me a beautiful knowledge of and appreciation for Scripture, theology, history, philosophy, and more. It really puts my unique faith experience into perspective within the context of the whole tradition of the Church and the grand truth about God and the world. As Catholics, we know that God made us to search for and know the truth, so that through it, we may know and receive His goodness and love.
TM: Who in your family do you see as a role model for living the Catholic life?
Rev. Mr. Straus: I was always strengthened by the example of faith I saw in the lives of my grandparents, on both sides of the family. Each of them were all such faithful Catholics who knew how to live their vocation of marriage in a life of holiness, fidelity, and service. But, I think of my Grandpa Walsh, who always lived in pursuit of virtue and truth, and Grandpa Straus, who devotes himself to prayer and is so faithful to the tradition of the Church.
TM: Who in your life has helped/inspired you most through your discernment and formation?
Rev. Mr. Straus: Without a doubt, some of my brother seminarians have been the greatest help in my formation and discernment. The profound friendship and brotherhood that is fostered in seminary life has been essential for my growth in holiness and perseverance in all the work and formation over the years. The example given by other seminarians and young priests has always been an inspiration and influence for me. A few friends in particular have been great sources of fraternity, accountability, and reflection, and this has prepared me well to be able to rely on friends and brother priests in my future ministry.
TM: Who is your favorite saint to turn to for inspiration/guidance/intercession?
Rev. Mr. Straus: Mother Mary is a constant influence and intercessor for me, as well as my patron, St. Joseph. In addition, I have a great love for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, to whom I often turn for intercession. St. Paul is a fantastic inspiration and guide for me as he proclaimed the Gospel and lived in humble service to the Word of God and the Church. On my prayer cards for my diaconate ordination I used an image of St. Thomas the Apostle, because I am always inspired by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God!” after the Lord softened his doubtful heart and revealed Himself to Thomas with such love.
TM: What piece of advice would you give to a young person discerning their vocation in life?
Rev. Mr. Straus: There are many ideas thrown at us about what success looks like. Remember that what ultimately matters in your life isn’t how much money you make or even what you’ve accomplished in your career, as much as being an authentic and generous person and living a fulfilled life. Only Jesus can give you that fulfillment, as He says in John’s Gospel: He came that we might have life and have it to the full. Fill your life with friends and family who truly love you and want to help you grow in holiness. Live in conversation and prayer with God, listening for where He might be calling you. Remember that the life of following Jesus rarely looks like the life we plan for ourselves: be ready to say yes to the unexpected.
TM: What’s up next for you as a deacon?
Rev. Mr. Straus: This summer I am delighted to begin my assignment at St. Canera Parish in Neosho and Nativity of Our Lord Mission Church in Noel, under Vincentian Fr. Derek Swanson, CM. I am excited to return to parish life for a while and exercise my ministry in preaching and service for the people of these parishes! In August, I will return for my last year of seminary formation at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. Throughout the year on the weekends, I’ll be assisting and preaching at a parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Pray for me as I prepare for my ordination to the priesthood in 2018!