There are people who, when you first meet them, remind you of people who are very dear to you already. In those cases, you learn to love the new acquaintance on the spot. That was my experience with today’s guest, Dr. Tom Papreck, who with his wife Tammy teach NFP in our diocese. I hope his perspective on this topic inspires you.
Halfway through my second marriage, the five year mark to be precise, I had a sudden change in direction in my faith life. I had been a little more than a pew potato. While I had been a Lector and had been involved in the periphery of parish governance I found myself searching for more involvement in the life of the church and something that I could commit to after my retirement which was but five years hence. The two immediate triggers were a new truck with satellite radio and an invitation from one of our deacons to consider service in the ordained ministry.
For Lent that year I chose to give up listening to all books on tape (with their jarring four letter words) or any news programs and instead promised to invite Mother Angelica and EWTN into my life for all my trips each week to rural health clinics. It soon became apparent what a slackdog Catholic I had become! The thought gave impetus to the deed and through what seems a divinely inspired restructuring of my medical practice I was able to begin inquiry and discernment into the diaconate. Ultimately my wife and I devoted 5 years of time, talent, treasure and prayer seeking ordination.
Along the way, and separate from the diaconate formation, our diocese recognized that I as a physician and my wife as a former OB nurse would be ideal candidates for training as NFP instructors. We spent a year of Sunday nights, several hours each of those nights, taking the online course and ultimately becoming certified. December 2012 as our final classes in the diaconate ended and ordination loomed four months away I was informed that because of an article discussing our new NFP ministry in the diocesan newspaper, a letter objecting to my ordination was received by the bishop…
The good news is that we continue to serve the Church, the Diocese of Jefferson City, our parish, and the Couple to Couple League, but not as an ordained minister and wife. We have 18 new deacons and their wives to count as our lifelong friends and my very active role as an instituted acolyte here at home.
Did I feel persecuted? YESSSS! Did I feel angry? YESSS! At first, but mostly sad for me and my “accuser”. This would seem to be a perfect example of the maxim “no good deed goes unpunished” but I prefer to look at it as a major contribution to reducing the temporal punishment for my many sins and as a result as the beatitude says “the Kingdom of Heaven shall be mine” perhaps a little sooner than later.
Dr. Tom Papreck practices family medicine in rural Missouri. He and his wife are highly involved in prolife work, including as teachers of natural family planning for the Couple to Couple League.