The Severna Park Voice is helping the community learn about the pastors at the many churches in the area. This month, we got to know Father Erik Arnold from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
How long have you been at St. John the Evangelist?
I've been here for just a little over two years. I arrived in July of 2019.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a priest?
I had a big conversion, during my senior year of college. And so it was about a year after I graduated when I felt the call to enter seminary.
What is your favorite thing about being a priest?
The best part of it all for me is helping to lead people closer to Jesus. I know that may sound a little trite, but that really is the best part of it. But then in that, doing that especially through the celebration of the sacraments.
Can you tell me about a moment in your life where your faith grew?
This one goes back to when I was in seminary. In most of my years of seminary, I was studying in Rome in Italy. All of the classes, everything, was all in Italian. I went over, not knowing or speaking any Italian. So, just being in a totally new environment, and not being able to rely on myself the way that I had been used to, that was a time of a lot of spiritual growth in terms of learning really how to rely on the lord. That was a huge one.
And then the more recent thing would be just during all that we went through with COVID and seeing the deep faith of the people in our parish who, even during the shutdown, were doing everything that they could to stay connected to the lord and to the parish. That was so inspiring. That was just a source of a lot of growth from my own faith, going to great means to stay connected to the parish and to the lord during that stretch of time.
Do you cook? What is your favorite meal?
I do enjoy cooking, and my favorite stuff to cook in general would be Italian. I love cooking pasta.
If you’re not at church or at home, where could we probably find you?
The best way for me to relax, and especially to get rid of stress, is hiking. So [recently] I was able to get away for a day down into Shenandoah to spend the day hiking. So that's where I would love to be on a day off, outside, hiking and just enjoying the beauty of nature.
Did you pick up any quarantine projects or hobbies?
The biggest thing I learned was how to livestream. So, we scrambled to get the church online. My undergrad degree was in computer science. So, I'm comfortable with technology but had never done any livestreaming. So, the biggest hobby I learned during the quarantine was having a livestream so parishioners could stay connected.
What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?
Growing up, my mom had her own catering business and I would assist with her on a lot of the jobs, but she ended up kind of in a very particular niche kind of area. Most of her work was catering for film shoots and commercial shoots in the Baltimore-Washington area. That was when I was in later high school, and I worked with her throughout college. There were lots of commercial shoots that were done, that I was just behind the scenes as we were just feeding the crew. But I'm not sure if that's so much of a fun fact that it is just something I've always found really interesting just to see all of those things behind the scenes.
Do you follow sports? What is your favorite team?
Yeah, I do follow sports. My favorite has got to be the Ravens with football.
What is an item on your “bucket list” that you haven’t checked off but really want to?
This one is a combination of both hiking and my faith. In Spain, there is that long pilgrimage trail, called the Camino de Santiago, which in English is “the Way of St. James.” There's the shrine of St. James that is in northwest Spain, and there are pilgrimage trails from all over Europe that, over the centuries, pilgrims would walk on to make their way to the shrine. But there's a really beautiful one that begins in Southern France. So, it's about a month-long hike on the trail to get to the shrine of Santiago. So my bucket list would include being able to hike the Camino as an act of faith, but also just the journey of doing that month-long hike.
What is your favorite type of music?
Gosh, it's pretty eclectic. Everything from Christian worship to classical, and even to contemporary folk. The last concert that I was at, this goes back years, but it was Alison Krauss and Union Station. That was obviously much more on both the folk and on the bluegrass side.
What is the best thing about St. John the Evangelist Church?
The best thing here is the people. We have just a really loving, warm and welcoming parish family. That has been the best part of this, just the people that I get to serve.
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