Aaron Hietpas

Aaron HietpasParish: St. John Nepomucene Parish, Little Chute

Birth Date: December 27

Seminary: St. Francis de Sales Seminary

Seminary Address:
3257 South Lake Dr.
St. Francis, WI 53235-3702

Theology I

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Patron: St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 
 

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I love dogs! Dogs are a good analogy for the spiritual life. They are loyal, loving, and are always excited for their owners to come home.

Tell us about a great experience that you had during the summer of 2018.
This past summer I was studying and growing in the spirituality of the diocesan priesthood at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE. There I was able to pray and learn of the Father’s love for me more intimately. I especially learned of the beauty of my poverty and littleness, much like St. Thérèse of Lisieux. This gave me great joy and peace. This flowed over into my apostolic work as well. One day, while helping at a day care, one of the boys looked at me and asked, “Why are you always smiling?” I answered, “Because you are all a gift to me.” What I didn’t say was that the Lord was showing me the truth of my littleness through these little ones.

Who influenced you the most to think about priesthood?
The first person I ever told I wanted to be a priest was Fr. Patrick Beno, who was at one time the associate pastor (parochial vicar) at my home parish of St. John Nepomucene in Little Chute. He would bring a fishing tackle box full of prayer cards and rosaries into our fifth grade classroom at St. John’s, and we received a card if we answered a question correctly. He was a witness to joy and the Good News! Another priest that influenced my view of priesthood was Fr. Jim Hablewitz. Fr. Jim was my pastor at St. John’s during my middle school and part of my high school years. He was always willing to offer his time and do whatever was needed to benefit his flock. Fr. Jim’s witness showed me that in order to be a priest you must have love in your heart, a smile on your face, and the cross on your shoulder.

Pope Francis recently wrote a document entitled Gaudete et Exsultate on holiness. What does holiness look like to you?
I think that too often we tend to get caught up in the idea of “becoming” holy, as if we can attain holiness by being pious and doing what the saints did. However, holiness is all about relationship. The more we grow in union with our God, the holier we become because we are “set aside” for Him alone. We realize that what the world offers us to replace the relationship with the Father is base and nothing compared to the glory that He offers us through His Son, Jesus. Seeing God faceto- face in heaven is the ultimate goal of holiness. However, with our relationship with the Father, we can begin to live out that union here. That same union is prefigured by those who are married and testified to and expected by those who are celibate. This union is the union of holiness. We grow in this union through constant watch, engaging with the Lord through prayer and the sacraments, opening ourselves to the purification of the Holy Spirit, and staying in the gaze of our beloved savior, Jesus Christ. This is summed up in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.”

What is your dream car?
My dream car would be a fire-striped Mini Cooper with a race engine and monster truck wheels. No snow storm could stop that baby!

What aspect of your home parish is the most meaningful for you?
My second favorite aspect about my parish, St. John Nepomucene, is the area in the sanctuary by the tabernacle. It is an intimate place to pray with the Blessed Sacrament. I say it’s my second favorite because my first favorite is the people!