MONSIGNOR ROBERT JAEGER OF COLORADO SPRINGS MEETS MINISTRY CHALLENGES DURING PANDEMIC
When Monsignor Robert Jaeger is not at St. Paul Church in Colorado Springs, CO, where he is pastor, he can be found downtown in the chancery as vicar general for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
How is the Colorado Springs Chapter doing?
We’re in pretty good shape. We’ve maintained consistent membership. We have a good community of people to be with, from all walks of life, from different businesses and lines of work. The thing we share in common is our Catholic faith, with the members living it out in their own lives and in their own businesses.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the chapter?
We weren’t able to meet for a couple of months. The coronavirus curtailed some of our socializing. Normally in July, we do a picnic of some sort or go somewhere for a social engagement. We have one planned now at a local country club with big rooms where food will be catered and everyone will be at a safe distance from one another.
We had our last meeting at St. Paul’s, in the parish hall. We scattered the tables around, each at a safe distance, and had a meal catered. We had our speaker via Zoom. It all worked out pretty well. There were 34 people in the room, and we had Mass and Confession beforehand. We also had about 10 members watching via Skype.
How has the pandemic affected your role as a pastor?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve said Mass every day. We stream it online so people can watch live at home and later when they want. We called everyone in the parish at least once a month to check in with them, and I do other taped messages on a regular basis to keep some kind of contact on a regular basis with everybody. I think that’s important to bring some stability and confidence, to let people know the Church is still here for them.
What’s one thing people are surprised to learn about you?
I’m a late vocation. I was ordained when I was 39. I worked in parole and probation in Illinois for five years and then I did the same thing in Las Vegas for 10 years. I enjoyed the work, and I enjoyed the people I worked with. Basically, you’re a social worker in that role, sometimes a babysitter. Everybody needs somebody to talk to, sometimes a shoulder to cry on.
How did you transition from probation officer to priest?
My older brother is a priest. He went to the seminary right out of high school, and I had given it some thought many other times. I dabbled in seminary two or three previous times, but it didn’t take then. But I kept close to the Church. I had priest-friends, and I was close to the bishop, who urged me to pursue a vocation. After 10 years in Las Vegas, I decided I should really take a look at the priesthood. If you feel the Lord calls you, you need to give it an honest shot.
Is there anything else you’d like to emphasize to Legates?
Our basic premise is to be ambassadors for Christ. Are you witnessing Christ in your family, in your place of business, and everywhere else, so that the faith is fully connected and integrated into your whole life wherever you are?