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New Merrillville pastor shares personal journey into the priesthood

 101321Mauch priest appreciation

Father Ted Mauch distributes Holy Comm to parishioners who kneel in the front pew during Mass at St. Joseph in Dyer in 2020. Father Mauch was recently assigned to serve three parishes in Merrillville - St. Andrew the Apostle, Ss. Peter and Paul and St. Joan of Arc. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

BY GREGORY MACYSZAK III

NWIC correspondent     

 

      MERRILLVILLE – “I think the wonderful thing about the Catholic community in Northwest Indiana is that we are rural, suburban [and] urban all within a matter of an easy drive,” described Father Ted Mauch while reflecting on the uniqueness of the Diocese of Gary.

      Father Mauch was named pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle and administrator of St. Joan of Arc and Ss. Peter and Paul parishes in Merrillville on Sept. 8. 

      When Father Mauch was 5, his family moved to LaPorte from the Diocese of Saginaw in Michigan. Since his mother was a teacher at St. Joseph School in LaPorte, he often arrived at school very early and became an altar server from third through fifth grade for “the nuns’ Mass” at 7 a.m. “Other than (during) middle school and high school, for most of my life I have been blessed to be able to attend the Eucharist daily,” said Father Mauch, who attended LaPorte High School and Purdue University. Active at the Newman Center at St. Thomas Aquinas at Purdue, he resumed attending Mass almost every day.

      “A combination of my mother being a Catholic school teacher … as well as my family and the Sisters and my pastors – they were all kind of a very positive influence on me in my vocational discernment for the priesthood,” said Father Mauch.

      Father Mauch attended seminary at Sacred Heart in Detroit for seven years, where Bishop Robert J. McClory was one of his instructors, and earned degrees in philosophy and theology. Soon after ordination, he was named associate pastor as St. Michael the Archangel in Schererville, where he served for four-and-a-half years. He also served as associate pastor at St. Thomas More in Munster for two years before being named pastor at St. Joseph in Dyer for the past five years.

      “I’m inspired every day by the Eucharist, by the ability to be renewed and refreshed in the Word and Sacrament,” said Father Mauch on the importance of the Eucharist in his life.

      He noted that the ordinary aspects of daily life, complemented “by the Words of the Eucharist, the Word of God and the Scriptures, nourish us and ground us in spiritual moments of great joy and spur us on when we need help finding that hope to move forward in all different circumstances.”

      Father Mauch recently took scuba diving lessons and is now a certified diver after being encouraged by one of his seminary classmates to pick up the hobby. Father Mauch is looking forward to going diving in Lake Michigan next summer and possibly diving in warmer climates, too.

      He stated that his first basic dive was in a parishioner's backyard pool since the availability of pools was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His next four dives took place in an old stone quarry in Illinois where the deepest parts reached 70 to 80 feet.

      To relax, he also enjoys the sci-fi movie genre, including “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Stargate” and “Babylon 5” and British mystery shows from the 1980s and 1990s.

      “I have a natural gift with technology,” added Father Mauch, noting that he sometimes assists people with technology issues. At the onset of the pandemic, Father Mauch helped a team in the Diocese of Gary ensure that Bishop Robert J. McClory’s Sunday Masses were live streamed from the Cathedral of the Holy Angels

      He has also helped parishes utilize technology grant money given through the Center for Congregations to mount video cameras and install other equipment to help broadcast Masses.

      “Technology is part of who we are as a community and therefore it has to be part of who we are as a Church,” stated Father Mauch. Technology, he added, helps Catholics participate in the liturgy and non-Catholics be introduced to the Church.

      “I think every community, every parish has to be able to be present in different forms of social media, different forms of communication that are occurring,” said Father Mauch in describing outreach to young Catholics.

      Specifically in Merrillville, Father Mauch noted that the pandemic and the tragic death of his predecessor, Father James Meade, created a communication void. He hopes to re-establish that communication channel by bringing back the parish bulletin, having an interactive website and utilizing social media platforms that are essential to connecting current parishioners and reaching out to young people.

      “[I have been] very impressed by how close-knit the Merrillville parish communities are, how very much involved in each other’s lives they are. At the same time, there is very much a desire to know the answers to questions, because we know that things are going to be changing in the (several) next months and (up to) two years for all five parishes,” stated Father Mauch, adding St. Stephen, Martyr and Our Lady of Consolation to the discussion.

      He is grateful that people have put their concerns aside to welcome him during the past few weeks of the transition. “I am here as a servant to walk with all Catholics, all of the people of Merrillville …” said Father Mauch in the midst of the changing role for several parishes.

Father Mauch noted his fondness for St. Joseph and the strong impact that John’s Gospel, with its emphasis on Jesus as “the Bread of Life,” has had on him, also noting the importance of “all of Scripture” to a faith-filled life.

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