Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
March 12, 2001
Basilian ready for ordination
Redemptorist mission started him on journey to Church
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — In a week, Jim Stenberg will be preaching and teaching under the name of PJ or Padre Jim . . . or maybe FJ hook or FJ squared.
It's a tradition at St. Joseph's College to nickname everyone in the residence. And as the director of residence, Stenberg, 30, couldn't escape that fate.
He's now known as DJ, which stands for Deacon Jim, but after his ordination March 16 at St. Anthony's Church, they'll have to find a new name for him. They could also call him FJ (Father Jim) hook or FJ squared. The hook and squared differentiate him from the FJ title given to Father Jeff Thompson, a former residence director.
Stenberg was drawn to the Catholic Church by his own curiosity. Attending high school in Red Deer, the faith caught his imagination. He started thinking about it.
At about the same time, the Redemptorist Fathers held a mission near the school and since Stenberg had a spare that afternoon, he decided to check it out.
His grandparents were members of the Church of the Nazarene, but Stenberg was never baptized. He was surprised to learn that he had an uncle who was a Catholic priest.
He started RCIA in his last year of high school and was baptized when he began attending the University of Alberta.
"The tradition I came out of, we didn't go to Church. It wasn't a big deal for me to join a church. It was an interest that I wanted to pursue."
At the U of A, Stenberg majored in honours math, with dreams of being an astronomer. While there he lived at St. Joseph's College. He's now back at the college as the director of the residence, a position he's held since spring 2000.
It was also at St. Joseph's when he began thinking about religious life. He picked up a vocations card and decided that if he was meant to be married, he would be, but if he was meant for something else, he should give it a chance too.
"I thought I should give it a listen," Stenberg said of the vocations idea. "If it's not for me then it's not, but I won't know if I don't try."
Although he was first introduced to the Redemptorists, it was the Basilian Fathers that he joined. Stenberg wanted to join an order because he was attracted to the community environment.
"The thing with being a diocesan priest is that I thought I would be lonely. Because I'm shy, I thought I needed to be around people. You're always around people when you're in an order."
The mission of the Basilian Fathers, education and evangelization, was also of interest to Stenberg. "My interest has always been in academics. I'm a head person, always thinking."
After graduating from the university, Stenberg went to Albuquerque, N.M., to teach high school math for a year. Then he headed to Toronto to study philosophy. He went to Mexico during his novitiate year where he did pastoral work and learned Spanish.
Then it was back to Toronto to his theology degree. He suffered a bout of depression, a condition that runs in the family and therefore his ordination was delayed a year.
Stenberg is looking forward to the duties he will be performing as a priest, from celebrating Mass to hearing Confessions. But he's aware of the challenges particularly in helping people to understand the Church and the sacraments.
"It's going to be a challenge explaining to people why they can't have their wedding ceremony at the park or in the river valley. Or why they can't have the theme from Jaws at their ceremony.
"I find that people who are angry at the Church or who leave the Church, it's usually during marriage-related things."
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