Rev. Eric Zegeer
Title: Parochial vicar (assistant pastor) of All Saints Catholic Church, Sunrise.
Personal: Age 33. Born in Evanston, Ill.
You've said that Pope John Paul II influenced you to become a priest. How?
His life and story inspired me. I went to World Youth Day in 1993 in Denver, and found him extremely loving and affirming. He was an elderly gentleman speaking to youth, not to condemn or correct, but who saw gifts of passion and idealism. He encouraged us to use them to spread the good news of Christ.
Favorite part of your work?
Being on both sides of the confessional, both as a penitent and as a confessor. There's nothing more life-changing than the mercy of God.
encountering the brokenness of people. I so often see physical and sexual abuse, abandonment by a parent, people who have come to this country undocumented, separated by families, with no way to make a living here.
What do you do to relax?
On my day off I like to sleep in. I don't get a lot of sleep during the week. I also love visiting parks and spending time with my parents, and families of friends that are close to mine, just playing, talking, sharing a meal.
Going to a gym two or three times a week. Lifting wgts is great to relieve frustration.
Favorite TV shows?
"Dirty Jobs," or shows on The Military Channel. And stories of men in Iraq, what they go through.
Ignatius press has been putting out a lot of DVDs on the lives of saints. I really enjoyed one on Padre Pio. I also loved "The Blind Side." It's a story of hope, overcoming racism and poverty.
Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
U2. Their music and lyrics are upbuilding and positive. They address real human issues and struggles. In the last album, "No line on the Horizon," the lyrics are so Catholic. They're on forgiveness, transformation, the life of prayer. I'm going to their concert in South Florida this summer.
Do you have a treasured possession?
Two small first-class relics of Padre Pio. One is a piece of cloth from his hand that had the stigmata. The other was wrapped around his rib cage, that bled stigmata from his side. I went to San Giovanni Rotondo, where his body was exhumed incorrupt despite the humidity. For a time, they showed it. I was able to spend two days there and celebrate Mass at the altar where he celebrated every day.
Your worst moment in the pulpit?
Once, someone opened a purse, and a bird flew out and flew around the church and landed on people. They were screaming and jumping. I found out later they'd found it on the ground and were going to bring it home after Mass. The ushers finally trapped it and took it outside. It was hard for me to continue preaching after that.
What's the most important thing you've ever learned?
Forgiveness and patience with yourself, the way God is patient with us. It opens you up to your potential rather than wallow in limitations.
Have you ever doubted your faith?
Yes, there have been moments I've wondered if it's all real and if there is a God.
How was that doubt resolved?
Through an experience of goodness. Where does the beauty of creation or a child or a flower come from? Especially the character of a person? It's more than an individual or all of us collectively. It constantly reaffirms the existence of God, who is the source of beauty.
James D. Davis