Etienne Huard, O.S.B. ordained a priest for Conception Abbey

Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB, (seated) pours sacred oil on the hands of Fr. Etienne Huard, OSB, (kneeling) who was ordained to the priesthood at Conception Abbey on May 18. (Photo courtesy of Conception Abbey)

By Sara Kraft

On May 18, Brother Etienne Huard, O.S.B., was ordained to the priesthood by retired Archbishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk of Conception Abbey and former Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa. Father Huard is the son of Constance and the late Stephen Huard. This spring, he graduated from St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania with a Masters in Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Systematic Theology.

Father Huard, a native of Wichita, Kansas, had a long road to the priesthood. He originally began thinking of the priesthood as a young boy, even as young as age 6. The good example of a great uncle and cousin who were both priests helped him along. “All the priests I knew in Wichita showed me priesthood was a joyful life and a life worth living. There were so many good priests growing up,” explained Father Huard.

After graduating from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Father Huard attended Conception Seminary College for one semester to study for the Diocese of Wichita. After a five year hiatus, he completed his degree. During his time at Conception Seminary College, Father Huard was drawn to monastic life by the routine and the love for each other the brothers possessed. “I found a deep sense of joy and peace in daily life,” explained Father Huard.

On August 15, 2010, Father Huard professed vows as a Benedictine monk. Before becoming a monk, Father Huard was known as Eric Huard. When taking vows, monks change their name to show they are getting rid of the old man who had been living out in the world. “We show we are spiritually a new person in Christ,” explained Father Huard. He picked the name Etienne (the French version of Stephen) because St. Stephen the Martyr is a special protector to whom he prays for guidance and imitation of his life. Father Huard’s father’s side of the family is French Canadian. “I wanted to honor my (deceased) father by taking his name, but I didn’t want to literally take his name. So I took the French version,” explained Father Huard.

As a priest, Father Huard hopes to imitate St. Stephen the Martyr even more closely. “A priest’s life is to act as Christ. St. Stephen the Martyr brought people to Christ. My desire is to be acting in the person of Christ for others, marked specifically by service,” stated Father Huard.

Being a monastic priest is different than being a diocesan priest. A monastic priest is not under a bishop in the classic sense. The abbot (currently Abbot Benedict Neenan, O.S.B.) is his superior. As a monastic priest, Father Huard’s life is centered around the abbey, while diocesan priests are assigned by the bishop to serve in a specific area. A monastic priest’s home is always the monastery.

“Growing up, priesthood had always been appealing and I had been drawn to it. However, I came into monastic life to be a monk and a monk alone. I would leave the discerning of priesthood for later,” said Father Huard. The abbot is to be the voice of Christ for his monks. Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B. (now Abbot Primate for the entire Benedictine order) encouraged Father Huard to become a priest, and after personal discernment, Father Huard said yes to priesthood.

During the ordination Mass, Archbishop Hanus reminded Father Huard that “The Benedictine priest has, first of all, a shepherding role. He is a pastoral person and is to imitate Jesus as the Good Shepherd, even to the point of giving his life for the sheep. He must give his life for the members of the flock which is the Church and ultimately all humanity.” Additionally, a priest must be a servant and be willing to get down on his hands and knees with a pitcher of water and wash feet. “Jesus died for us. He expects his priests to be willing to do the same,” challenged Archbishop Hanus.

“In the words of St. Paul, ‘For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.’ Let your actions and words always say to the people, I am your slave,” continued Archbishop Hanus.

Father Huard will continue to live his monastic duties now as a priest by becoming the Freshman Chaplain of Conception Seminary College where he will live, eat and pray with the freshman, overseeing their initial stages of priestly formation. He will also be the new kitchen master and manage the entire kitchen operations. Finally, he will teach permanent deacons.

“As a priest, I am to be a bridge between Christ and the people. I am to act in a way that in my own work, empowered by the Spirit and empowered by Christ, I can open their eyes to see Christ and what they need from him,” stated Father Huard.

“Pray for me that I stay faithful and good to the mission God has given me,” requested Father Huard.

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Thursday
August 24, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph