Eckert new pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic church

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rev. Father John Eckert, the newly installed pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tryon. (photo submitted)

Editor’s note: Rev. Father John Eckert was recently installed as the new pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tryon. The following interview with Father Eckert was submitted by Barbara Childs.
1. As the new pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, what goals and ministries will you focus upon for the parish life of the church?
The Second Vatican Council in the document Lumen Gentium – Christ is the “Light of the Nations” – promoted what is called the “Universal Call to Holiness.” Essentially, this means we are all called to become saints, to love and serve God in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the life to come. Too often there is a temptation to think that holiness is “not for me,” that it is only for folks who lived in bygone eras in far away places. The truth of the matter is that we are all called to holiness. I hope to encourage the people of St. John the Baptist, as well as anyone else willing to listen, to recognize this fact. We live out this holiness in our daily lives, as faithful husbands and wives, as good parents, as kind and contributing members of the community, building one another up, and encouraging one another to embrace the joy of the Gospel by the way we live our lives. I hope to achieve this goal of calling people to holiness by promoting the dignity of every human person, from conception to natural death, by promoting the fact that life is good and very much worth living, by encouraging people to be concerned about the needs of their brothers and sisters throughout Polk County and beyond, and to live their vocations in selfless, Christ-like love. Lofty goals? Sure. But if God is for us, who can be against us?
2. What do you enjoy most about being the pastor and shepherding the flock here?
So far, the example of the people of the parish, and the people of the community, have been incredibly edifying for me.  The reverence and prayerful spirit of the people of St. John’s is inspiring. Beyond the parish campus, I have been impressed to find the motto “Friendliest Town in the South” to be absolutely correct. I have felt very welcome everywhere I have visited in Tryon. I also appreciate that everyone is happy to smile and wave as they pass one another in the street. I am thrilled to be here and look forward to serving the good folks of Tryon for many years to come.
3. What do you value most in your calling to the priesthood and bringing Christ to His loved ones?
It is an incredible honor to be a priest. I have the privilege of serving people, from the youngest to the oldest, at the happiest of times and in the most difficult. No day is like the one before it, and you never know when you might go from the Baptismal font to the bedside of someone in the last moments of his or her life. To have the distinct honor of bringing Christ into those moments, and hopefully all the ones in between, is an amazing way to spend a life. There are certainly challenges, crosses to bear and difficulties to overcome, but you get that in any walk of life. I am incredibly blessed to get to celebrate the Sacraments, to get to know and serve the people of God, and to get to do all that here in Polk County is truly a joy.
4. What is most important to you in today’s culture dominated by common interests of material wealth?
In a world that too often despairs, that looks for fulfillment in sources that cannot possibly deliver, that resorts to selfishness, it is crucial to point to the true light that enlightens every heart, Jesus Christ. What is most important to me, so to speak, is to always point out that there is much more for each and every one of us than what the world has to offer. Following Christ, embracing the moral life, picking up our crosses, will never be easy, but what that is worth doing is ever easy? By embracing the sacrifice, the struggles, the peace and the joy of the faith we find lasting peace and fulfillment, which is infinitely more than money, pleasure, power or popularity can claim.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox