Father Kyle Sladek Comes ‘Home’ for Wednesday’s Mass

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Lauren Van Gheem, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Q: How does it feel coming back to the Notre Dame auditorium?

A: I’m looking forward to praying Mass at NDA.  I really enjoyed my time in high school, so it will be great to give thanks for great years here.  I have many fond memories of my times on the stage of the Rev. Guy E. Guyon, O.Praem., auditorium: from playing trombone in band concerts, to being escorted in tuxedo during Mr. NDA, to altar serving during Masses as a student.  I also spent a considerable amount of time, with student government, trying to hang the annual motto on the wall of the auditorium my senior year: “He who has God at his side is troubled at nothing.” – St. Norbert.

 

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?

A: I was seeking happiness, and God made it clear that priesthood was the only thing that would make me truly happy.  I was a successful student at NDA: good grades, well-liked, varsity sport, band, Scouts, girlfriend, car, etc. – but I wasn’t happy.  It was a great grace to realize this at a young age. Pleasure, wealth, power, and honor: none of these satisfies our hearts. Only a relationship with Jesus can.  I had a good friend, Eric, who witnessed the joy and peace that come from knowing Jesus, and by his example and invitation, I came to know Jesus as well, in the Eucharist, in the NDA Chapel, at Mass and Adoration, in studying the Faith, and in a community of people who also love Jesus.  Once I encountered Jesus in the Eucharist, thoughts of priesthood started, but I was dating a lovely lady and had my own plans. I went to college and the idea of priesthood persisted. Along the way I met exemplary, holy, vibrant priests, and I started to realize, “This really is for me.”  I finally said “yes” halfway through college: I met with a priest and opened up, and it was like a huge weight off my shoulders, like I had fallen in love, had finally found the One Whom I had been seeking, Who would rejoice my heart.

 

Q: Where did you attend college and how did you make that decision?

A: I went to college at the University of Notre Dame.  It’s a prestigious school, so it was hard to turn down when I was accepted.  I had a lot of other good offers from other (mostly Catholic) colleges, but Notre Dame had always been a bit of a dream, an ideal.  Mom went to St. Mary’s College, across the street from ND, so there was a bit of pressure on her side. I’m glad I ended up there, because I ended up majoring in something completely different than what I started in.  I entered as an engineering major and came out a philosophy and theology major – and I’m sure glad I was able to study those subjects at ND! It was a great education.

 

Q: What are your favorite high school memories?

A: Asking my girlfriend to Academy Ball on the roof of the school; cheering loudly at Friday night football games – sometimes dressed as a priest waving a Vatican flag up and down the track when we played Fox Valley Lutheran; tennis meets; playing in the pit orchestra for Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Sound of Music; competing in Mr. NDA; Mrs. Brown’s brownies; praying in the Chapel; life lessons from Coach Lagerman; band trips; all the friends, the teachers, the good people, and the good times in class and walking the halls.  I miss it!

Q: What will your duties be as a priest and what parish or parishes will you serve at?

A:  I’m the Parochial Vicar (Associate Pastor) at Holy Cross and St. Katharine Drexel Parishes in Kaukauna.  I help the Pastor with his ministry and vision for the parishes. I celebrate Mass, hear confessions, visit and anoint the sick, visit the homebound, prepare couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony, celebrate baptisms, pray with people, teach classes, and try to spread the Good News.  I teach Latin in the grade school. I love spending time with parishioners and the Faithful – coming over to families’ homes for dinner, hearing people’s stories, and trying to help them encounter God and become who they’re meant to be: a living Saint.

 

Q: How do you prepare for your homilies?

A: I pray.  I ask the Holy Spirit to tell me what His people need to hear this week, and I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, read the Scriptures for the weekend, and eventually the Lord puts something on my heart.  Sometimes I write out my homilies. Other times I speak from the heart. Some are short, some are longer. I trust that the Lord uses me and my gifts and abilities – and my weaknesses and shortcomings – to communicate with His people.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite saying or thought you live by? If so what is it and why?

A: “Jesus.”  Jesus is all that matters, and He is all that will remain one day.  The closer we get to Jesus, the more we become Him, and the more we become Him, the quicker He spreads to others.