A lot of priests have a hobby.
When Christopher Wenthe was an electrical engineer and single, living in the Twin Cities, he had lots of time to hunt and fish. The deer opener, like the duck and pheasant openers, wasn’t something he squeezed in between meetings. Or homilies.
Now that he is a Catholic priest with 850 families to tend to, time is more precious, and, come whitetail season, his blaze orange coat and cap often gather dust in a closet for days on end, unused.
“This life doesn’t allow me as much time to hunt,” Wenthe said. “I’ll get out hunting Saturday morning, maybe, and perhaps Monday morning, my day off.”
Wenthe, 44, is pastor at St. Peter’s and St. Joseph’s Catholic churches in Delano, where many of his congregants in the community of about 4,000 share his passion for the field sports.
“I grew up in south Minneapolis and my dad and brothers hunted,” he said. “My dad was more of a deer hunter. But I had a friend who was a bird hunter, and I hunted ducks and geese with him.”
When Wenthe graduated from the University of Wisconsin and returned to the Twin Cities, he had no intention of becoming a priest. He had been trained as an engineer, and an engineer, he assumed, he would be.
Then, he said, he felt “compelled by a call” and joined the St. Paul Seminary in 1997 at age 32.
When he did, he didn’t sell his scattergun, his bow or his fishing rods. Nor, in his ever-more-detailed studies of the Bible and the church, did he find conflict between his evolving life as a man of God, and his past — and current — life as a hunter. And killer.
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