Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 26, 2006
Cramer heard unlikely call to priesthood
Once a Mormon, he was drawn back to the faith of his youth
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I had to choose."
Fr. Marc Cramer
"I joined them because of a great need to belong, to be part of something," he said just hours before his ordination. "They accepted me. I was befriended by people that were my own age in the Mormon community and I felt a great sense of belonging."
Cramer did mission work with the Mormons in Brazil in 1990 and got married in 1994. The marriage lasted three years and was eventually annulled by the Mormon Church.
"I have the experience of marriage and I think that helps me to understand what's important about marriage," he observed. Mormons encourage members to marry but, as Cramer now knows, "marriage is not for everybody."
He spent more than a decade with the Mormons faithfully attending services.
"I learned a lot from them. They were wonderful people in many ways. But what happened is that I went through a lot in my life and I started to feel a great sense of emptiness in my life, a really profound sense of emptiness," he said.
"I would go to church every Sunday; I was part of the Mormon community and they were good to me but there was something really missing. And then I started praying really hard about what do I need to do to fill that emptiness out."
He kept feeling an urge to return to his parents' faith, the Catholic faith. While he was attending university, people would often tell him he was cut out to be a priest, something he thought was out of the question because he was a Mormon.
"I'd always felt within me though a sense of wanting to serve God and to give myself. I just didn't know completely how to do that," he said.
In the summer of 1998 he decided to explore a return to the faith and visited Father Karol Zynel at St. Andrew's Parish in Edmonton. The priest welcomed him back and gave him the sacrament of Reconciliation. Then Cramer started attending daily Mass and reading a lot.
When he received the Eucharist for the first time in 1999 the emptiness he had been feeling left him completely. And his desire to give himself totally to the Lord only increased.
Cramer talked to Father Sylvain Casavant, then vocations director for the archdiocese.
"I felt drawn (to the priesthood) but at the same time I didn't know if I could do this." At that time he was working as a gas station manager and pursuing an education degree because he also felt called to be a teacher. "The two were tearing me apart. I had to choose."
A major car accident Easter week 1999 helped him make his decision. He was living a fast life and the accident slowed him down. "It made me really think."
Then he visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and asked for her guidance. "Intellectually I knew this is where I would be happy. I said, 'Lord, if you want me to be a priest, help me solve these issues.'"
On Casavant's recommendation, Cramer entered the seminary in 2001. He did his internship at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain from 2003 to 2004. The internship helped him discern whether he was up to the task and to learn the practical work of his vocation.
He came back to Holy Trinity last year to serve as a deacon and said Father Paul Terrio, the pastor, was a good role model. "He is a great pastor, a great spiritual director and a great confrere," he wrote in his ordination booklet.
"Marc is very generous with his time and energy; I know he is going to be a giving priest," Terrio said after Cramer's ordination. "The Parish of Holy Trinity enjoyed having him as an intern and as a deacon because he is ardent and vibrant."
Cramer's parents, Roland and Collette, seemed genuinely proud of their son. "I'm very happy because this is a dream come true for Marc," Roland said.
Collette said he was not surprised Marc chose the priesthood because "we brought him up in the Catholic faith" and as a young boy "he was always very devoted."
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