COOK—It doesn’t appear that Father Drew Braun has to be his brother’s keeper any longer. Just as it was for Father Drew, his younger brother, Beau, will be starting his career in …
COOK—It doesn’t appear that Father Drew Braun has to be his brother’s keeper any longer.
Just as it was for Father Drew, his younger brother, Beau, will be starting his career in the priesthood assigned to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cook. Though Father Beau is new to the title of priest, he is not new to the parish, so he saw plenty of familiar faces at a community potluck held to welcome him to his new role.
“We’ve known him for a while now,” Tim Johnson said of Father Beau. As a deacon, Father Beau helped his brother with the local parish. When he was in seminary, he often assisted with the ins and outs of the parish. He spent his four years in seminary as an associate, which he equates to an internship.
“You’re learning and observing but the whole life of the parish itself is not really your responsibility. You can do things to support it but it’s not primarily your responsibility whereas as a pastor, it is your responsibility, and so I’m making that transition,” Father Beau said.
Catholic ministries often switch their leadership every 2-5 years. “It’s a domino effect, to be expected. We just wait for the next announcement but we’re excited,” Johnson added.
A new priest has the important task of getting to know his flock, much like a shepherd, but as the shepherd, he must also honor his individual vision of church leadership.
Any new priest should “feel the pulse of the parish,” but Jackie Triska, a 35-year parishioner of St. Mary’s acknowledged, “each priest does have their own ideals.” She continued, “Every priest brings his own perspective. A fresh take on the gospel message is important.” She then joked, laughing, “we break them in and then send them to a bigger parish.”
It’s a heavy task, acclimating to a new parish and understanding the needs of that community. But the fact that Father Beau is already familiar with the parish will ultimately make the transition easier for both the parishioners and their new father.
Father Beau was admittedly surprised at being posted to the same church as his older brother. “I remember thinking to myself it would not be likely at all because my brother was here…but sure enough that would be my first assignment as well.”
He seemed to be just as excited as the parishioners around him, as he flitted from table to table, greeting and enjoying the potluck with everyone. “The other day I was walking up to the church with just a smile on my face…I can’t help but feel joy right now and grateful that the bishop would entrust me with such an opportunity,” Father Beau said.
When asked what he does with his free time, Triska interjected and said, “What free time? You’ve got Orr, you’ve got Cook and you’ve got Tower.”
Besides St. Mary’s in Cook, Father Beau serves at Holy Cross in Orr and St. Martin’s in Tower. The former hosts a Saturday Mass while the latter hosts a Sunday morning Mass.
Father Beau agreed and noted, “It’s a lot of driving. It’s like 30 minutes in between each one, so I’m putting on a lot of mileage.” But he still has time to pursue other interests. In his limited free time, he likes to off-road, camp, explore, golf, paint figurines for table-top games, edit videos, and play computer games.
Though he didn’t seem to think that the creativity displayed by his varied interests played a huge role in his approach as a priest, it can’t be denied that they suggest Father Beau has the potential to bring a different energy and outlook to St. Mary’s.
“I just want the parish to be the best possible and I recognize that my experience is limited, but that’s part of the reason I’m here [because] this community is fairly well-established [and] really strong,” Father Beau said.
“I mean, ultimately the question on my heart over and over again is where is this community going and what’s…the best version of Cook, Minnesota?” he said. “I’m just trying to facilitate so that the people can have more of a profound accord with Jesus Christ and you know, live the gospel better.”
“We forget that priests are on a journey, too,” Les Pajari, another parishioner, added.
It seems like St. Mary’s and its sister churches are ready for that journey.
*Mass times and locations can be accessed at https://www.stmmhc.com/