Name: Father Rob Lathrop
Years ordained: 8
Current assignment: All Saints Parish, Keokuk
How did you know you were being called to priesthood? When I was in the military while in Europe, aside from my usual job and responsibilities; when we were out training in the field, I held Communion services for the troops as a result of the priest shortage. I would travel with our battalion chaplain (who was non-Catholic) to various places where there was a concentration of troops. I would take the Catholics and we’d have a Communion service, while the chaplain would take the Protestants. When finished we would join together for song and worship.
I also served as a chaplain assistant in the church where we were stationed, serving as well as the lay Catholic coordinator for the local military housing area, making home visits and inviting back to church those who had fallen away, which proved very successful.
I received a phone call from the local chief of chaplains inviting me to his office. After a brief conversation he inquired as to whether I had ever considered a vocation to the priesthood. That question seemed to be the answer to what I had been struggling with internally for some time. That was the beginning of my journey toward the priesthood.
Aside from your ordination Mass, what was your most memorable Mass? The first Mass I celebrated in my first assignment, at St. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. I was both apprehensive and in awe of the privilege of being the instrument through which Christ was present in the sacraments as well as in ministering to the community.
What is most rewarding about being a priest? Being with people where they are and sharing in their lives, especially in times of joy. Sharing in ministry and witnessing the parish grow in faith, unity and involvement as members of the body of Christ.
What is most challenging about being a priest? The amount of suffering that we see, which at times is overwhelming; however, walking with others in times of difficulty can as well be rewarding. Often I find that they are teachable moments as well.
Too many people have not been told that their suffering has meaning, especially in relationship to the cross. Through explaining this, it has been my experience that it can be the catalyst by which others return to the practice of their faith.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Ephesians 4:29-32: “Never let evil talk past your lips. Say only the good things others need to hear, things that will really help them, lest you offend the Holy Spirit whom you were given on the day of your redemption.”
What is your hobby? Fishing is my refuge during the summer months. A good day of fishing does as much for me as a week’s worth of vacation. A number of parishioners in my new assignment have volunteered to show me their favorite fishing spots, but only if I put it under the seal of confession, Ha! My wintertime hobby is skiing.