Monk, priest, teacher—and military chaplain

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Wednesday 24, February 2010 | Category:   Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

by Father Paul Weberg, O.S.B.

If someone would’ve told me when I was in high school that I would end up being a Benedictine monk, a priest, a high school teacher and chaplain, and an Army chaplain, I’m not sure if I would’ve laughed or cried, but I’m sure I would’ve been surprised! Somewhere in Saint Augustine’s Confessions he prays to God, saying something like: “When I was young, I wanted marriage, money, and prestige, and You laughed at me.” I think we have two lives: the one we plan for and the one we get, and if we’re in touch and in tune with the Lord, the one we get is always better for our eternal happiness and holiness. That has definitely been the case for me.

Father Paul Weberg, O.S.B. in Iraq
The monastic calling draws me more deeply in relationship with the Lord in the solitude of the monastery and more deeply in relationship with my brother monks at Marmion Abbey in Aurora, Illinois. My priestly calling draws me out of the monastery in ministry to our high school apostolate at Marmion Academy and within the local dioceses. Marmion’s military tradition, both in the monastery and in the Academy, drew me into another part of my vocation: as a chaplain in the Illinois Army National Guard. There’s a big need for Catholic chaplains in the military, and I felt the Lord calling me to be a priest for our nation’s service members. I’ve served in a field artillery battalion, a special troops battalion, and currently in a medical battalion. I deployed to Iraq for three months in 2008 and I went back at Christmas.

All of these “parts” or “layers” make up my vocation. Some have said: If you’ve met one Benedictine, you’ve met one Benedictine! There are truly no two monks alike, and rarely do monks live out their call to seek God in exactly the same way. Saint Benedict doesn’t even expect that—and with the chapters in his Rule on diet and artisans in the monastery, maybe he even discourages it. Being a monk and priest has opened so many doors for me. For me, the Lord has called me to seek him and to glorify him in the monastery, high school ministry, and the military. If you’re following the Lord, be ready for an adventure!

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