Sacrament of reconciliation led college graduate to priesthood

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor

Bishop Donald Kettler has asked pastors in the St. Cloud Diocese to offer extra times for the sacrament of reconciliation during Advent. To highlight the sacrament, The Visitor interviewed Father Matthew Kuhn, who spoke about how reconciliation made a difference in his life.
Juggling two full-time jobs at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., Matthew Kuhn felt that he was at a crossroads in his life.

He finished his student teaching in the fall of 2003 and had accepted two temporary jobs for six months — an administrative assistant position for music organizations on campus and a residence hall director position.

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Father Matthew Kuhn

But a religious vocation was also on his mind. He wondered what might be the best fit for him. Joining a religious community like the Jesuits or Dominicans? Diocesan priesthood?

Bishop Paul Dudley had been helping out at St. Dominic Parish in Northfield after he retired as bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1995. He celebrated daily Mass in Northfield and offered reconciliation opportunities before it.

“He had a welcoming nature, was a joyous man and had a grandfatherly presence,” Father Kuhn said. “He also had humility, a love of Scripture and a love of sacraments.”

Father Kuhn decided to go to Bishop Dudley for reconciliation. The bishop encouraged him to go to confession regularly — which Father Kuhn did every two weeks, continually garnering new advice and insight from the bishop. Father Kuhn also learned from Bishop Dudley through his actions, mannerisms and approaches.

“He really showed a deep love and joy for the sacrament of reconciliation,” Father Kuhn said. “To see it as a healing moment changed my mind and my heart.”

Through regular reconciliation and penance, Father Kuhn recognized that he was called to diocesan priesthood. He, too, wanted to offer the sacrament of reconciliation.

“I wanted to share that joy and forgiveness I had received,” Father Kuhn said.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 2010 and is currently pastor at St. Henry Parish in Perham and Holy Cross Parish in Butler. He enjoys administering the sacrament of reconciliation and finds it to be a place where he encounters Christ.

“It’s one of my favorite parts of ministry,” Father Kuhn said. “It’s a sacrament of God’s mercy.”

When listening to confessions, Father Kuhn often refers to Scripture passages that Bishop Dudley mentioned to him. Some of the psalms Bishop Dudley asked Father Kuhn to read were Psalm 95 and Psalm 139.

Now in his fourth year of priesthood, Father Kuhn is grateful his discernment led him to the diocesan priesthood because he “absolutely” feels he is in the right place.

“There’s comfort in that,” he said.