I am a concrete finisher. For twelve years during and after high school and college my workdays were spent pouring driveways and shop floors throughout Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Of course, I am not just a concrete finisher; I am a man, I am a Catholic, I am a Holy Cross priest. But I spent many formative years working alongside a motley crew who taught me about hard work, attention to detail, and how to build things that last.
On jobsites I was usually focused on keeping up with the fast-setting concrete – you dare not ‘get behind’ when finishing a large floor, or you’ll have to tear it out and start over! I never really imagined I would go on to become a priest and religious, and I certainly never thought I would earn a doctorate! But as I grew older, my heart and mind were drawn more to thoughts of what I would do with my life. And I began to realize that God was calling me to become a Holy Cross priest.
Part of formation in Holy Cross meant earning a Master’s in Divinity. In studying theology and our faith tradition I was learning how to serve as a priest for God’s people. In my first assignment, as rector of Zahm Hall at ND, I began to dream about what was next for me in Holy Cross. And I began to realize I might be headed back to school.
After several years of discernment, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan, to prepare me to serve as administrator and professor in one of the universities where Holy Cross serves. I am studying leadership and how it can be more effective for our colleges and universities, especially our Catholic institutions.
I would be lying if I didn’t report that my studies are interesting – exciting at times – and that I am so thankful to Holy Cross for giving me this opportunity. At the same time, the concrete finisher in me can struggle with the abstract nature of higher studies and can hardly wait to finish and get back into full time ministry!
Sometimes we build the Kingdom of God with bricks and mortar, sometimes with words and ideas. But whatever workshops we find ourselves in, we roll up our sleeves and work to make God known, loved, and served.
Fr. Dan Parrish, C.S.C., was ordained a Holy Cross priest Easter Saturday in 2004. He is currently one of over a dozen Holy Cross priests pursuing advanced degrees to better serve the community’s work on behalf of the gospel, especially in its colleges and universities. Learn more about the work of Holy Cross in education.
Special thanks to Matt Cashore for the picture of Fr. Dan Parrish, C.S.C.