Father Ventline talks to the Polish Weekly

Polish Weekly Editor Alicja Karlic interviews Fr. Lawrence M. Ventline, a board certified professional counselor on special assignment for the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Father Ventline is a regular contributor to the Polish Weekly.

Editor:  Fr. Ventline, tell our readers about yourself please?

Fr. Ventline:  My parents, both of Polish-American descent, were farmers from merged families. Both parents are deceased but their faith and fervor for God and culture live on in the seven of my siblings.  My dad was born in Port Austin, MI. Faith is a powerful inner resource for the interior life that shows up daily in public!  Dad’s mother died when he was six months old, so his father, with a large family and farm, needed the helping hands of a spouse and my dad’s father married again. I didn’t get to know much of her own struggles. My mother hails from Cheboygan, MI., and a terrible tragedy caused her father to remarry.  Merged families help me appreciate the many step families in society today.  I grew up on Detroit’s east side near the City Airport on Lynch Road and Van Dyke while we walked miles to Saint Thomas the Apostle Church where Msgr. Stanley Skrzycki, D.D. was pastor of this huge sprawling parish.  His name is written into a stain-glass window in Saint Michael Parish in Port Austin long before the diocese of Saginaw was created. Harrison Township near Metro Beach is where I reside. Parents are tremendous blessings and families need them both today.

Editor:  Father Ventline, what is your ministry?

Fr. Ventline:  My parents supported each of their children to be the “best” version of whatever way of life we chose.  While I was shy about telling others about wanting to be a priest early on in my childhood, I was influenced by parish priests who walked in the courtyard between their rectory and the edifice praying the official prayer of the church, called the liturgy of the hours that Vatican II urged all Catholics to pray. Much was learned at home, the primary place for education.  The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis of Garfield Heights, said I lived too far from the church to be an altar server so I became a safety boy watching the priests wave while I helped other students cross Townsend and Miller to school daily. Women had a great impact on forming me, thanks be to God. They were educators who founded hospitals, and more. Four sisters I lived with and two brothers had chores before homework and dinner together nightly. My oldest brother’s death in Vietnam in ’68 opened up questions unasked before.  Trying to put myself in another’s shoes helps me understand their story of origin/faith, to be less judgmental and critical. To positively build upon human nature as Karl Rahner, SJ, suggested.

After serving as a pastor of parishes of St. Joseph, Lake Orion, and, Our Lady of Sorrows (Belgian) on Meldrum near the Capuchins on Mt. Elliott, including Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners (Franklin), Wisconsin (a seminary for older men in formation to be ordained for service across the USA), along with leading the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, and getting campus ministry moving at Madonna in Livonia, this so-called “cryptic” special assignment of pastoral counseling was asked of me.  I continue to provide counseling as a board certified professional counselor using spiritual solutions to clinical issues with “igniting each one’s dignity and worth in self and others” as mission. Catholic Care of the Soul and Companions Counseling was established, and thrives with groups and individual counseling based at Sacred Heart, Roseville.

Editor:  You seem to be very energetic and motivated to do interfaith work also?

Fr. Ventline: Vatican II emphasized inter-religious dialog and understanding Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions, among others, as a key to peace.  All the violence today that starts within one’s self can be calmed by appreciating the faith stories of Catholics, among others of the Abrahamic faiths. The All Faiths Festival (AFF) was founded to recognize and bridge relations to foster wellness in a fractured society.  Blessed John Paul was very inter-faithful with Jews especially.  Vatican II, for example, erased the presupposition that Jews murdered Jesus.  We grow as a church daily with God’s love steering away from politics and interpretations that only embroil discord. Fear of the foreign and unknown behooves me to come to know it.  Jesuit spiritual directors taught me to get to know differences.

Editor:  How do you find time for all this?

Fr. Ventline:  Blessed with a big family, and mentors such as the very human Father Ed Popielarz who taught acceptance, a strength, and, a virtue like faith, hope, charity, prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance to be the best version God invites us to be, I learned to organize my time adding to the household’s income as a Detroit Free Press carrier, and working at a monument and cemetery marker company while in high school, along with serving at a soda fountain and soft ice cream store before working at Chrysler’s while at St. Mary’s College in the summer months. Sisters at school were great blessings and taught me so much! Praying some, studying some, working some, exercising some and socializing some, works well for me. This earth is broken and needs God’s healing path, and, I want to help with God’s guidance.  Though my ministry at times is misunderstood as a special assignment, and frustrating because of that,  I go beyond that, and watch people mend and know that only love apart from state/church politics is the Way, Truth and Life!  Building life in and outside the womb at home, at work, at counseling, and at play is what Vatican II encouraged people to do, even, while many think that being a lector (reader) or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist is the lone way to serve. Families need to be supported where they are, not taken from their home to do church work. They can love right where they land. The articulate John Cardinal Deardon was a favorite of mine; he always said we never do enough for families.  And, Belle Isle’s Bishop Kenneth Untener encouraged people to walk with pregnant mothers in their difficult journey, and to do more than simply forbid this and that talking at people “laying heavy burdens.”  That’s love beyond church/state politics that seem to drive dioceses today, sad to admit. Helping people be happy, to love, takes lots of practice for this 62-year-old. But, I love it! This newspaper does a world of good to build people’s lives, and culture, and commitment with respect for all!  At home, I learned to do a lot with very little like the few loaves and fishes that fed thousands in the Gospels. Keeping my eyes and legs fixed on God alone works best and prevents me from surrender of the joy God gives! Love, indeed is the answer.  All else is “politics” and unhelpful. My parents loved as best they could and had little time left for the unhealthy politics that drive so many these days.

Editor: Thank you Fr. Vantline for you time, I wish you all the best in your pastoral assignment. We are thankful to have you as our team member.  

 

 

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