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 | By Mary Kay McPartlin

“Life with the Oblates is what I needed”

Joe makes first vows

Joe Katarsky first encountered the Oblates when a student at Lumen Christi High School. “They all just seemed very down to earth, relaxed and funny,” Joe says. “There was a deep faith and spirituality about them.”

On August 15, Joe Katarsky made his first vows to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales at St. Mary of Good Counsel Church in Adrian. Joe had searched for years before realizing God was calling him to consecrated life.

From Lumen Christi, Joe went to Michigan State University, where he earned a degree in geography and environmental sciences. “College took a hold of me, and I kind of pushed my thoughts of being a priest to the back burner,” says Joe. “I always loved the outdoors, so I worked for a state park after graduation. I found I was missing the deeper human connection.”

Nursing school seemed to be the answer for Joe. The career had more human connection, and caring for those in need seemed to be what was missing in Joe’s life. He took courses for nursing school and was accepted into MSU’s accelerated nursing program, on track to meet his destiny. And, yet . . .

“I could just feel that something wasn’t quite right,” Joe says. “I realized God was calling me.”

Time spent with the Oblates in Toledo helped Joe recognize God’s plans for him to be an Oblate priest. He finally found peace.

“I thought maybe I could see becoming one of these guys,” he says. “In 2013 I joined up with the Oblates, and in August I went to Washington, D.C. to work at an all-girls Catholic high school. That year was called postulancy. I lived in community to see if it was a good fit, and the Oblates checked me out as well.”

The fit was perfect for Joe and the Oblate community. In 2014 he entered the novitiate, and spent a year working at Camp de Sales in the Irish Hills.

“It’s a prayer-filled year. They teach you all about the Oblates’ history so you can fall in love with the order,” says Joe. “The whole year was really incredible. It was very grace-filled. Life with the Oblates was what I needed.”

Guidance and support of those in community helped Joe find his spiritual center. Prayer became less sporadic and more focused. Sharing his journey in community has made his life full and complete, and Joe has learned that shared spirituality enhances individuality.

“The thing that I like most about community is the fact the guys I live with are not guys I would be friends with on my own,” Joe says. “We don’t have the same interests. Grace allows us to know we are different, but still be supportive of each other. We are accountable to each other. The goal is to help each other to be better people and better ministers. We’re all in this together. The journey is a lot easier when you have brotherhood and fraternity. Living in community definitely does have a family atmosphere. At the end of the day there is always love and respect for each other. That’s the beautiful thing about it.”

After his first vows, Joe traveled back to Washington, D.C. to study at Catholic University. He will take an annual vow every year until his final vows as an Oblate in 2019.

Joe is very excited about his life journey as both an individual and an Oblate. “St. Francis de Sales said everyone is called to holiness,” he says. “Our motto is be who you are and be that well.”