The Rev. Shawn Haremza.
The Rev. Shawn Haremza.
Six months ago, the Rev. Shawn Haremza came to the area to serve the Catholic parishes of Mabel, Canton and Harmony. He is an energetic, outgoing man who has spent this time taking it all in, getting acquainted and getting a sense of the communities.

Father Haremza (pronounced ha-rum-za) is taking time his first year here to assess the needs of the churches and understand their place in the community to best serve his parishes.

A busy guy, Haremza sat down recently for an interview fit between presiding over morning mass and an afternoon nursing home service.

Originally from Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, he began his long journey to the priesthood in third grade. When his friends were thinking about being astronauts, doctors or firemen, Haremza first thought of becoming a priest.

Time passed, he grew up and found himself completing a college degree in corrections at Mankato State University before he discerned his calling and entered the seminary.

He took his seminary training at Winona's Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary and at the University of St Mary of the Lake's Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. He returned to Winona, where he worked at the Cathedral for four years. He has stayed in southeastern Minnesota ever since, last serving at Resurrection Parish in Rochester.

He "traded" posts with Msgr. Don Schmitz, Rochester for Harmony. Schmitz is now involved at Pax Christi in Rochester.

Haremza shared that he likes the area he now resides in. He likes the beauty of Bluff Country, the rural setting, and the closeness of the communities, where people openly and freely help each other.

He said he specifically enjoys the trail system for biking and walking. Just being outdoors is enjoyable for Haremza.

Music is important to Haremz as well, and he plays the guitar.

He is the oldest sibling in his family and has one brother and two sisters. They, along with his five nephews and nieces, all live in the Twin Cities. He added the Haremza crew has enjoyed visits to the area.

When asked what his hopes are for his parishes, he said he encourages his congregations to embrace a strong community outreach effort by serving people in their own communities. Reaching out to those in need, especially this Christmas season, is a wonderful way to respond to the local needs with love and care, which in turn will help the churches become an effective catholic community.