From the Pastor
Welcome Fr. Daniel Griffith
Fr. Daniel shares his faith and background in this column.
Known and Loved by God is a Truth of All Biographies
The story of God’s deep and abiding love is the greatest love story ever told: it encompasses the wonder of creation; the gift of Jesus Christ—his passion, death, and resurrection; the gift of the Spirit and the life of the Church; and our friends the saints, including Mary, the Mother of God, our patron saint. What wondrous love is this. As a pastor, I think getting in touch with and integrating the truth of God’s personal love for each one of us is a key to living dynamic discipleship.
Psychologists will tell you that one of the most important aspects of emotional and psychological health is to feel known and loved by others—friends, family, and certainly by one’s spouse. I would dare say that even more important for us as spiritual beings is that we have a firm conviction that we are known and loved by a good and gracious God. You will hear me preach and communicate much about God’s love during my time in service of our community because I think knowledge of God’s personal and tender love cannot be overstated in terms of its importance to our lives of faith. Whether people are aware or not of God’s divine love, it is a truth of all our biographies, because without this love, none of us would be here.
As your new pastor, I would like to share a little bit about my own story as we get to know one another on our journey of faith. I look forward to hearing your stories as well in the coming weeks and months ahead. I was born and raised in northeastern Wisconsin, the Fox River Valley—the youngest of nine children, in what could be described as a loving and raucous Irish Catholic family. My father Bill is still alive and when he was recently in the Twin Cities, he received a first class tour of The Basilica by our beloved Dr. Johan Van Parys. My mother Susan passed away ten years ago and was a wonderful mother and wife. As a woman of deep Catholic faith, mom was a light to all of her family, including me, her priest son.
I first felt a call to priesthood when I was eight years old. I told my dad that I wanted to be a priest and used to play Mass with my best friend Kevin. As the years passed, the call became more distant and less realistic—I always had a hard time believing I was holy enough to be a priest—God calls us anyway. Growing up, I played a number of sports including football, basketball, tennis, and golf. I attended the University of St. Thomas in 1989. As the youngest and because my parents were in a different financial situation, I was afforded a privilege that my other siblings had not been—to attend private college. Of course, as siblings do, they remind me of this from time to time.
At St. Thomas I majored in Political Science and minored in Theology—as much I liked Poly Sci, it was theology that began to win my heart. The call to priesthood did not go away, but I was still not ready to say yes. I attended William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul in 1994 which provided the gift of a legal education and some wonderful friends, who remain good friends to this day. God was not done with me in terms of the call to priesthood. When I saw that there were a couple of priest-lawyers serving in the Archdiocese, I thought to myself, wow, maybe it is possible to live this life as a priest—maybe this is God’s call for my life. After a year of intensive discernment and the application process, I entered the St. Paul Seminary in 1998. While no one feels called to seminary—for those who are called to priesthood, seminary provides further opportunity for discernment and the necessary formation and education to serve God’s people in priestly service. It also provided another opportunity to establish life-long friendships.
Since my ordination in 2002, I have served in a variety of assignments, including as an associate pastor at All Saints in Lakeville, as pastor of St. Peter in North St. Paul, and most recently, as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. In December of 2011, I was appointed to the University of St. Thomas School of Law faculty where I continue to teach in the areas of Catholic social teaching, jurisprudence, and restorative justice. My work at UST Law has been a great gift – I have enjoyed teaching, the interaction with students and colleagues, and leading our new Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH). I am heartened that I will be able to remain at the law school in conjunction with my ministry at The Basilica and look forward to the shared values and programming opportunities, epically in the area of advocacy for justice and healing.
Perhaps some of my most challenging work as a priest was in the role of delegate for safe environment at a time when our archdiocese was in crisis— reeling from self-inflicted wounds from the failure to protect children and vulnerable adults. It was fraught time for many in our local church, but for me was also a time of growth. Our archdiocese is in a much different and healthier place than 2013-2014, as we have become a national leader both in the area of safe environment and now in restorative justice. I am heartened that the arc of my priestly ministry has moved decidedly to the area of restorative justice and healing. I hope this work in this area has helped me become a better priest and pastor—more compassionate and more attentive to the needs of those who are suffering.
The call to the serve as pastor of The Basilica is humbling. I have long admired this community in so many ways and have enjoyed getting to know staff and parish leaders over the last number of months. I have been impressed with those I have met and what I see. I thank Fr. Bauer for facilitating a very good transition and wish Fr. John well in his pastorate at Our Lady of Lourdes. My role in the coming months is to listen, learn, and meet as many people as I can so I can serve well our community going forward. I am excited for this work of walking with our community, discerning God’s call, and going out to our broader community to announce the good news of God’s love.
Finally, what do I like to do for fun?—travel, reading, cooking, walking, music, spending time with friends, spending time at a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin, and golf. And as I confessed on my first weekend at The Basilica, yes not only am I a lawyer, but I am also a Green Bay Packers fan. I know that this presents two strikes against me in some of your eyes, so hopefully I can overcome these deficiencies by being a really good pastor.
Fr. Griffith’s Installation
Saturday, August 13, 5:00pm
Join us for Fr. Griffith’s Installation Weekend.
Installation Mass with Archbishop Hebda
Reception following Mass
Sunday, August 14
Receptions following 9:30 and 11:30am Masses