God-given joy propels Deacon Bim-Merle to priesthood

Gregory Bim-Merle

Deacon Gregory Bim-Merle will be ordained a priest on May 20

 

by Anthony D. Alonzo

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

        “I loved the Church (starting) when I was young – I loved being an altar boy, I really loved my faith. So the initial appeal of the priesthood was: ‘I’ll get to say Mass, hear confession, and (administer) the sacraments.’”

        Reflecting on his initial call to the priesthood in the days leading up to his ordination, Deacon Gregory A. Bim-Merle also said he views serving In Persona Christi as sharing God’s love. “I’ll be able to give (the sacraments) to others.”

        Beyond the early interest and appeal of becoming a leader in liturgies of the Church, Deacon Bim-Merle, 25, said his commitment to answer the Lord’s call to “feed my sheep,” has been confirmed by the joy that has overcome him.

        “So far this has been an awesome, fulfilling and joyful ride for me to be on ­– saying, ‘Yes’ to the Lord in this fashion,” said Deacon Bim-Merle, encouraging other men to respond in kind to a calling.

        Deacon Bim-Merle’s smile and the enthusiasm he shows as he completes immersive lessons among those also called to the priesthood at Mundelein (Ill.) Seminary, he hopes, is also an outward sign and answer to the question, “Why?”

        A native of Michigan City and growing up in what he described as a faith-affirming setting at St. Joseph church in LaPorte, Deacon Bim-Merle was raised in a devout household. His parents Matthew and Lucia Bim-Merle and his brother Michael, 15, encouraged his musical and religious endeavors. Frequent attendance at Mass and praying the Rosary as a family kept him in a religious state of mind.

        Music also pointed a youthful Bim-Merle to the priesthood. He said the Church has always been a patron of the arts, but with the talent to play six different instruments (his favorite being the organ), he found himself in a conundrum, wondering if his “biggest pastime” would be compatible with his priestly duties.

        “Part of my early discernment before entering seminary, one of the most difficult (considerations), was this feeling of ‘Am I giving up my musical career, or am I giving up those possibilities by entering seminary?’” Deacon Bim-Merle said. “Discovering that I can actually develop and use many of my musical interests in ministry is very life-giving and special to me.”

        A fan of everything from classical to rock ‘n’ roll music, Deacon Bim-Merle has given five organ recitals in the diocese since 2010. At Easter Mass this year, the deacon chanted the Exsultet, an experience he called “fun and beautiful.”

        Through his courses at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, and seminary training at Mundelein, Deacon Bim-Merle said he began to see the priestly vows of celibacy and obedience as “freeing” rather than “restrictive,” because he trusts in the guidance of the Holy Spirit in those matters.

        Retaining his unique personality and hobbies, the deacon still hopes “he’s not the same person” who entered religious studies eight years ago, but rather, someone who has become, “closer to being conformed to Christ, and is now living a better life of discipleship.”

        After his anticipated ordination to the priesthood at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary on May 20, Deacon Bim-Merle has been assigned to serve as associate pastor at St. Michael the Archangel in Schererville.

        “Humbled” by the privilege of entering the priesthood, and appreciative of the rigorous education and consistent support for his vocation, Deacon Bim-Merle cited 1 Peter 5, specifically the exhortation to “be good shepherds,” as a command he will follow, and “throw your worries on Him,” as advice he will heed.