For more than three decades the Prairie Messenger has named a Churchperson of the Year in its final issue of the civic year. We now highlight Canadians who have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the faith.
This year we highlight a theologian who has provided spiritual fodder for Prairie Messenger readers for many years. He came from a small town in Saskatchewan and now heads a theological school in Texas. Just as there was a saying in Jesus’ time, “What good can come from Nazareth?” many people might ask: “What good can come from Cactus Lake?”
Rev. Ron Rolheiser has been writing weekly newspaper columns for more than 30 years. In 1982, while living and studying in Belgium, he began to write a regular feature column in the now-defunct Western Catholic Reporter. The column offered reflections on various theological, church and secular issues. Choosing to call his column In Exile, Rolheiser commented:
“All of us live our lives in exile. We live in our separate riddles, partially separated from God, each other, and even from ourselves. We experience some love, some community, some peace, but never these in their fullness. Our senses, egocentricity, and human nature place a veil between us and full love, full community, and full peace. We live, truly, as in a riddle: The God who is omnipresent cannot be sensed; others, who are as real as ourselves, are always partially distanced and unreal; and we are, in the end, fundamentally a mystery even to ourselves.”It is amazing how Rolheiser continues to explore new topics each week, integrating spirituality with psychology, literature and daily life. He speaks a language that nourishes the soul of contemporary women and men.
The diversity of topics he has written on just this past year is illustrated by some of his titles: "The end of the world," "The dangers in being a warrior prophet," "Our resistance to love," "Suicide and mental health," "Our deepest insecurity," "The Ten Commandments of mercy," "On reading difficult passages in Scripture."
Currently president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, Rolheiser is much in demand as a speaker and retreat master. A specialist in the fields of spirituality and systematic theology, he has authored more than a dozen books. A blurb on his book Seeking Spirituality comments: “In this book Ronald Rolheiser makes sense of what is frequently a misunderstood word: spirituality. Spirituality is not, as often thought, something ‘out there,’ but means the restlessness that is deep in all of us. How we channel that restlessness, that deep desire, is what separates a healthy spirituality from an unhealthy one.”
Rolheiser has helped many Christians better understand their faith and integrate it into contemporary culture. The Prairie Messenger salutes him as our Canadian Churchperson of the Year.