Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 3, 2005
German priest loves the West
Fr. Scheele plans to write a book about the Canadian church
By JACINTHE GREEN
Special to the WCR
As a young priest in Germany, Father Ralph Scheele loves his country and his vocation. But he also has a special passion for the Catholic Church in Western Canada.
Since being ordained a priest on May 18, 2002, Scheele has served in the Diocese of Paderborn, Germany. He has a unique passion for the international Church, and that passion has created an interesting hobby of researching and learning about churches in Canada, specifically Western Canada.
Father Ralph developed an interest in the Canadian Church early in life. When it came time for his pastoral in-service prior to being ordained a priest, he asked to be posted somewhere in Canada. He wanted to gain practical experience and obtain more information about the Church in Canada.
He served his pastoral in-service in the year 2000 for four months at St. Boniface Parish in Calgary, the Calgary Diocese's German-speaking parish. While he was there, he visited every parish in the diocese, has a picture of each Catholic church in the diocese as well as a great number of pictures of other Christian churches in and around Calgary. Scheele sees many differences between the German Church and the Canadian Church.
"It is my impression that Catholics in Canada do more strongly identify with their local parish community. Most parishes are faith-families. In Germany, parish life remains frequently very anonymous."
St. Boniface beckons
The young priest has a strong desire to return someday to serve in the St. Boniface Parish.
In the meantime, he has spent much of his free time learning about Canada, to the point he has more information than most people who live there.
Along with subscribing to the Western Catholic Reporter since June 2002, he has written a personal letter to every Catholic Church in Canada asking for information about the history of their church.
From these letters, he received hundreds of replies, books and parish booklets. With this information, Scheele hopes to write a book about the Catholic Church in Canada for the German people.
Scheele said German Catholics can learn many important things from Canadian Catholics.
"The willingness to take on responsibilities seems to me more pronounced in Canada," he said. "In Germany, the population under 50 years of age is very passive and its engagement is limited. It appears to me that this is not so much the case in Canada."
At the same time, Scheele hopes the recent World Youth Day in Germany will encourage younger Catholics to participate.
"The World Youth . . . gave them the feeling they are part of a large community. It is my impression that once again they will dare to confess that they are Christians and will transmit the experience they have gained at the WYD. For our young people this will be a new start to reflect on their Christian beliefs," he said.
Hoping to reinvigorate the Catholic Church, Scheele continues to work and serve the German people and waits for the day when he will have the opportunity to do the same in Canada.