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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
June 12, 1999     Arkansas Catholic
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June 12, 1999

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Page 8 June 12, 1999 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC Tom Elliott: By Marilyn Lanford ROGERS CORRESPONDENT As Tom Elliott prepares for ordination to the priest- hood, he has been looking to models of priests he sees in the diocese. "If I had to find a common denominator among them, I would have to say they were also priests who had come to an understanding in themselves of who a priest was. These were priests who were looking to serve. I believe their spiri- tuality really flowed out of their service to their churches. I'hey recognized that whatever church they were in was not their own but belonged to the people there; they were sent there simply to serve in whatever capacity they were needed." Elliott, a member of St. Joseph Church in Fayetteville, said he has been most uplifted by the energetic priests who were "human" and qoving" to their parishioners. "In our diocese there are about a half-dozen priests that take great interest in vocations, that promote vocations, that try to get to know the seminarians and support them. These were guys that also enjoyed going hiking, fishing, camping, who enjoyed playing golf and going to movies." Elliott, 26, said he hopes he can use his status as a priest to bring other young men into the priesthood. tmse are the ones that I hope to model my priesthood on - that I'll be involved in promoting vocations, that I'll get to know some of these guys and serve in the same capacity as those priests before me did. It made all the difference in the world." Elliott said it's a tricky question" to describe why he wants to be a priest. As a priest, Tom Elliott wants to have a heart of a shep- herd just ILke Jesus. q really think, at least for me and many others, it boils down to the fact that I want todo the will of God and as that unfolds, believe that it is a call to the priesthood and a call to serve God's people." But the eight years of study at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans helped him to determine the validity ofhisvocation to the priesthood. "I didn't go in on day one saying, 'Oh, God is calling me to the priesthood.' So many of those years are simply dis- ceming what is God's will," he said. Elliott said he believes a recent New York Times article that says Catholic priests are the last counter-cultural icon left America. "i think there is something positive about that. No longer is a priest put on a pedestal, but that's what a priest is sup" Rh posed to be- in a lot of ways- counter-cultural. I think we're getting back to a ",ran, e where the priest is in a place where lae is supposed to be. d to Elliott said tellow ,seminarian Norbert Rappold helpe him, NorbertfOcus on a priest s personal identity.,, a said this better than I could, he said "Does my priesthood flow through who I am as a person or does my person flow through my priesthood? It needs to be the for- mer, not the latter. I think if a priest gets orbed simply for the identity of being a priest nowadays, he s going to be quite upset by what he finds." While interning at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers Wt last summer, he said he learned to discuss his own thoughl irt1 about Church issues in the parish. q enjoyed that, he said. "It was very reflective of the sere.- inary, similar to classroom discussions. It's good for me aria keeps me on my toes." cr EUiott chose a theme for his ordination: "Imitate the nays" tery you celebrate; model your life on the mystery of the Lord's Cross." He said the quote sums up why'he wantS to be a priest. hat has been my prayer for eight years, 'God, if you re Wt calling me to the priesthood, give me the grace to be a good priest. We need priests who have a shepherd's heart - who have the heart of Jesus. That's been my prayer and that has been my one goal." Norbert Rappoid: By Malea Waiters EDITOR eminarian Norbert Rappold sees his job as a priest as someone who can prune God's garden. Raised on a farm in Houston, west of Conway, Rappold is not afraid to get his hands dirty in a garden or in his ministry in the Church. Rappold said he believes he can apply the lessons from his previous jobs as a farmer, carpenter and landscaper to being a priest. Like the priesthood and his other jobs, books can be instructive, but the on-th job training is the most beneficial, he said. q'he books just gave me the beginning," Rappold said of his training at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. I'he real school starts now. You have to rely on people who have been around and, you might say, have pruned the orchard for a while. You have to rely on their wisdom and experience to help me ffain that. "After having a few of these experiences under my belt, then I can better prune God's garden and work in it with- out creating undo havoc and do things to enhance it, not take from the garden." The eighth of 14 children, Rappold, 37, is accustomed to pitching in and doing his chores, whether it was tending to the cattle, milking cows and picking vegetables and fruit. "I learned to take responsibility for one's action," he said. "Now that I've gotten older and things get messed up, I claim it and say I messed up. I see in society that no one wants to take responsibility." Attending the small church of St. Boniface in nearby New Dixie also taught him lessons about the Church. qt's the ideal church community," he mid. larger Norbert Rappold hopes he can use his priesthood to prune God's garden. cities I've noticed you've got so many Masses and some peo- ple don't know each other." After graduating from high school, Rappold attended Arkansas Tech University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in agricolmre business with an emphasis on horti- culture. After graduation he was hired by an orchard in Russellville where he learned more about pruning from 1980-1984. He later was hired to work as a carpenter along- his father, Horace. In 1987 Rappold decided to start his own landscaping business in Conway. He was living on acreage that was given to him by his parents and he was making plans to build a house there. His successful business stopped when he felt a calling to the priesthood in 1993. "It's totally God that puts the thoughts," Rappold said. "People either help nourish the thought or destroy it, which no one really destroyed the thought." He said wherever ever he serves he wants to renaaha focused on the people and building small church cot0" munities. "I want to try to help create community. I've been asking myself how do you create more community that's there ha small parishes that's sometimes not pre,sent in large that make people feel unwanted and they re not welcomecL Rappold said his summers at Our Lady of Fatima ha Benton, St. Edward in Texarkana, Immaculate Conceptioa in Fort Smith and St. Joseph in Pine Bluff have also taught him some valuable lessons. "It was a good experience to see the variety, he said, 1"o see that what works in one parish doesn't'necessarilY work in another." Many of Rappold's observations turn into poems, which he published in a small booklet called "A Journey Home" for ily and friends. One poem called I'he Master Gardener" tells the difference between young and experienced gardenerS. llae young gardener comes in and tries to dig and pla t and pull and create the beauty whereas the master gar tvZltv er asks to enhance it and bring it out and the real beauty show,. You try to put things where they don't belong they re never going to do any g_o d. One of my prayerS someday is to be a master gardener. .,