August 9, 2019

In 50 years as a priest, Father John Fink has shared Christ’s peace with others

Father John Fink, middle, celebrates a Mass on May 26 at St. Michael Church in Bradford to mark the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Deacon John Jacobi, left, assists at the Mass. Father Aaron Pfaff, pastor of St. Michael Parish, was a concelebrant. (Submitted photo)

Father John Fink, middle, celebrates a Mass on May 26 at St. Michael Church in Bradford to mark the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Deacon John Jacobi, left, assists at the Mass. Father Aaron Pfaff, pastor of St. Michael Parish, was a concelebrant. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

In his 50 years of priestly life and ministry, Father John Fink has ministered in parishes across central and southern Indiana, from those on the north side of Indianapolis, to others in the hills of the New Albany Deanery and along the Ohio River in Madison.

In each of them, he’s found fulfilment in a simple mission.

“It comes from giving the gift of Jesus’ love to others and their response,” said Father Fink, who was born in 1943 and grew up as a member of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove.

Ordained on May 24, 1969, by Archbishop Paul C. Schulte, Father Fink was formed for the priesthood during the years of the Second Vatican Council.

“There was more of an emphasis on reaching out to others,” he said. “During my theology years, we hoped that the Vietnam War could come to an end. Jesus’ mission when he came was to bring peace—among individuals, within persons themselves.

“If you don’t have a sense of peace within yourself, you’re not going to be able to bring a sense of peace to another. They’ll see the sense of unsettledness within yourself.”

In offering Christ’s peace to others, Father Fink built up warm relationships with Catholics across central and southern Indiana.

Joan Livingston knew the care and concern the priest had for others in the four years he served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville from 1999‑2003.

“He was extraordinary when people were going through hard times,” said Livingston, who served as principal of the parish’s school at the time.

She knows this about Father Fink not just from the experience of other St. Joseph parishioners, but also from when she and her family lived through times of trial.

“He just knew when you needed him,” she said. “It was an instinct that he had. He was there. He was sensitive to people’s needs.”

Father Fink saw reaching out to his parishioners as a natural part of the ministry to which he had been called.

“Priests enter into relationships in the parishes for various reasons—sickness, death, baptisms,” he said. “In a sense, you have a family, but the family is a lot larger than your own.”

He noted, though, that he made himself present to his parishioners simply to be with them and support them, not to solve their problems.

“We can’t take away the pain,” Father Fink reflected, “but we can surely, by reaching out, remind them that Jesus went through this, too.”

In his later years of ministry before his retirement in 2013, Father Fink experienced his own pain in various health challenges.

But Darlene Cole, who knew him at St. Michael Parish in Bradford during his time there, saw Father Fink as completely dedicated to carrying on his priestly ministry.

“He would break his arm one day and would have Mass the next morning,” said Cole, a pastoral associate at St. Michael at the time. “That’s the kind of guy he was.”

Cole saw that Father Fink’s tasks as a pastor “weren’t duties to him.”

“They were his life,” she said. “He never hesitated to do what was asked of him, or to go where he was needed.”

Father Fink continues to do that in retirement, regularly offering sacramental assistance in parishes in the southern part of the archdiocese where he lives.

“It’s a way to keep myself in contact with the people in the Church,” he said. “People have talked about the challenges in the Church today. But I think most people still have a great deal of faith.”

Father Fink shares in that faith, not being discouraged by the challenges that the Church has faced in recent years.

“If you know anything about the history of the Church,” he said, “you know that it has gone through many trials and tribulations, but God has always said, ‘I will not abandon you. I will not leave you.’ ”

Nor has he left Father Fink in his 50 years of priestly life and ministry.
 

(For more information on a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit www.HearGodsCall.com.)

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