June 24, 2016

Serra Club vocations essay

Retired priest gives student a vibrant example of God’s mercy

(Editor’s note: The following is the second in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Molly Gregg (Special to The Criterion)

Molly GreggGod has given me the gift of experiencing and receiving mercy through priests, deacons and consecrated men and women. One perfect example of mercy is shown through the priestly ministry of Father Frank Eckstein.

He is a model for all as he continually gives of himself to bring the love and mercy of God to everyone.

As we continue in this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis tells us, “Mercy is the Lord’s most powerful message.” Father Eckstein continues to live out the message of God’s tenderness by simply and humbly showing mercy and care every day.

Father Eckstein is a retired priest who helps out at our parish, St. Nicholas in Ripley County. He ministers to us by tending to our spiritual needs. One would not be able to tell he is retired, for he still gives lavishly of his time and assists at neighboring parishes.

One example will always stand out to me. One day after daily Mass, Father Eckstein was getting into his car to head to Milan. Some students were waiting in line to go to confession, so a parent ran to his car and told him there were students in need of confession. Father immediately turned off his car. With a smile on his face, he returned inside the church and headed to the confessional. He was eager to bring the gift of mercy to these children. Even at age 85, Father Eckstein continues to serve and shine so brightly.

Father Frank Eckstein also lives out the corporal works of mercy; he is a model to all of the parishioners and family to do the same. Feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and burying the dead are the three works of mercy that this faithful priest is known for in our area.

As my neighbor, Father Frank is known for his gardening; he often drops off corn and tomatoes to our family. By bringing holy Communion to shut-ins and those in nursing homes, he brings the light of Christ to those most in need. Whenever an area priest is out of town, Father Eckstein ministers to those who are dying; he goes to pray with them and anoint them. He also presides at many funerals in our area. Father Eckstein kindly gives of his time to assist at other parishes’ funerals and performs an important work of mercy—praying for the dead. He is truly a living saint in our midst.

I have experienced mercy through Father Frank Eckstein. Every day, I am reminded of what a great gift he is to all. Mercy is flowing out of him, reaching the hearts of many. He reminds us daily that we are all called to be Christ-like: helpful, humble, obedient, forgiving and merciful. Jesus will surely say to Father Eckstein, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

(Molly and her parents, Dana and Debbie Gregg, are members of St. Nicholas Parish in Ripley County. She completed the eighth grade at St. Nicholas School last spring, and is the eighth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

Local site Links: