Brian Strassberger, 27, a former School of Saint Mary student, is in his first year as a novitiate on the road to becoming a Jesuit priest. He stopped by our parish last Friday to visit his old home. The place where he made his first communion and had his first school experiences.
The path to Jesuit priesthood has many interesting experiences. Along with the group of novices from his province (located in Louisianna), Brian completed a 30 day silent retreat before beginning a three week pilgrimage that, for him, included coming to Tulsa. He has two years as a novice and another 8 years to become a Jesuit.
When Brian turned eight, his family moved to another state, but Brian continued in Catholic education through college. After finishing school, Brian started to sense a call to be a priest, but he wasn’t sure. He volunteered to work with the poor and traveled extensively. He worked with fund raising for awhile. This is when he felt he knew for sure that God wanted him to be a priest.
Brian started his pilgrimage with nothing more than a backpack, a few clothes and a bus ticket to Macon, GA. No money, phones or computers were allowed during the three weeks. Novices are to rely totally on God’s providence for their needs during the pilgrimage.
When he first got off the bus in GA, Brian looked skyward and saw three church steeples and started walking towards one. After staying awhile in Macon, a priest sent him on to Tampa and from there, Bran went to New Orleans. I think he came to Tulsa from there. He walked from the Tulsa bus station and first stopped at Holy Family. He then walked to the Church of Saint Mary where he was taken in by Father Jack.
He had a very full Tulsa visit. While he was in Tulsa, he was able to visit with some old friends, see his old neighborhood and childhood house, attend the soup supper and stations, go to a pinewood derby, (Brian is an Eagle Scout and started his scouting career here at Saint Mary.), read at mass, talk with students at Bishop Kelley and visit with his former Saint Mary school teachers. Brian had asked St. Katherine Drexel to help him during the pilgrimage. He smiled when he visited our school and saw posters naming her as our March Saint of the Month.
His final Tulsa goal was to eat a burrito at Chipotle’s and get back to the bus station. He managed to do that. From there, he was hoping to travel to Iowa and find a way to visit the basilica of St. Francis Xavier. He had till this Friday to meet his group in Kansas City where they would all share their experiences.
-Story told by Carla Lechner,
Preschool Director and friend of Brian and his family
To your left is a little video of Brian leaving at the bus station. It was originally meant to be a photo, but we got video instead!