Fr. Aaron: Seeking 'Abundant Life'
Fr. Aaron Wessman
Graduated May 2012
Glenmary Home Missioners
Hometown: Cokato, MN
What attracted you to the priesthood?
I have almost always been seeking to understand more deeply myself in relationship to loving others and God, and being loved by others and God. For me, I found that the best way to fully pursue this quest, and at least to get a glimpse of those things I seek, was to become a priest.
I found that priesthood would provide me with the greatest chance to deepen my relationship with God through Christ and allow me the opportunity to love broadly, by loving the Body of Christ. As I have pursued this call, I have always felt that I was fully alive and growing toward my fullest potential to be a loving human being.
Who influenced you to begin study for the priesthood?
When I was studying mathematics at St. John’s University, I cleaned the theology department to help pay for tuition. While doing so, I met a Glenmary priest, Fr. Jerry Dorn, who was on sabbatical at that time. This was a significant moment in my faith journey: I was volunteering in several churches, taking part in Bible studies, and beginning to ask many important questions about life, love, faith, forgiveness and God.
I was able to cultivate a wonderful relationship with Fr. Jerry that allowed me to grow even more in my own self-understanding, especially in relationship to the important questions I was asking. My relationship with Fr. Jerry was so significant that I started to think that perhaps I was possibly attracted to his lifestyle as a priest, and that maybe God was calling me to that lifestyle.
What were you doing before you came to the seminary?
Before I entered the seminary, I had just finished up my undergraduate work in mathematics and secondary education. Feeling a call to ministry and not yet sure I could fulfill that call in the priesthood, I spent a year working as a youth minister in my hometown. Several months into my experience as a youth minister, I realized that my heart had still not found its home, so to speak, and that God was continuing to ask me to take a deeper look at the priesthood.
Favorite saint and why?
St. Francis Xavier for his missionary zeal, St. Paul for his ability to go to where God was calling him without counting the cost, St. Ignatius for his invaluable spirituality, and St. Maximilian Kolbe for his commitment to loving intensely even in the midst of suffering and great sacrifice.
Favorite Scripture verse and why?
Two scripture verses are significant to me right now. The first is John 10:10. Here, Jesus is telling all people that He has come to give life abundantly. The second is John 6:68. Here, Peter answers Jesus’ question of whether he and the disciples will also leave because of the difficulty of Christ’s teaching and the faith required to accept it. Peter mightily responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
I believe deeply in my heart and have witnessed, not only in my life but in the lives of others, that there is a longing in the heart of all of humanity for completion, wholeness, love—abundant life. For me, this abundant life—the fullness of love—is found in Christ Jesus, and especially in the Eucharist. Life then, for me, is about drawing closer to Christ and to His people in love, and always keeping my eyes set on heaven for the day when Jesus will truly be all in all.
I love to read, write poetry, spend time in nature, spend time with my friends, travel, watch movies, be with my family, participate in athletics, listen to and play music, and experience different cultures, food and people.
What aspect of seminary has been the most rewarding?
The friendships that I have made throughout my time in the seminary have been the most rewarding thing to me. It has also been so rewarding to be in an environment where people are committed to help me grow as a human being and deepen my relationship with Christ.
What aspect of seminary life has been the most challenging?
Finding balance amid the great tensions of life, faith and love has been terribly challenging. Also, learning to be peaceful and live with the grey matter and ambiguity of life, the complexity of faith and of humanity, the unfathomable mysteries of God, and both the strengths and weaknesses that make up who I am has been very challenging.
Always let my journey of faith be shaped like the cross: vertically connected to God through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, but also horizontally connected to humanity through the fullness of my own humanity.