Lundberg Found Vocation, Answered Call in Arlington

Born in Nuremburg, Germany, Deacon Bjorn Lundberg spent his childhood as an "Army brat." His family spent time in Fort Hood, Texas; Carlisle, Pa.; Fairfax; and Fort Lewis, Wash. After earning a bachelor's degree in history from Christendom, he interned at Vatican Radio for two months before working at the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) for two years as associate producer. In 1999, he returned to Virginia and applied to Ave Maria Law School in Ann Arbor, Mich., still unsure of his vocation.
Lundberg first thought about a vocation during elementary school when his religious education teacher "predicted" it.
"I hoped she was wrong, but I couldn't shake the fact that I thought she was right," Lundberg said.
"Basically, I would describe my vocational discernment as coming to the conclusion that God had called me to be a priest, but that I had to wrestle with it for some time."
While interning in Rome he was put in touch with Father Christopher Pollard, then still in the seminary.
"I was impressed by him," Lundberg said. "I was at the point where I was still not willing to consider being a priest, but he was impressive, a normal guy and fun to be around. It was a good introduction to someone making a decision to do it."
Pursuing a vocation was still an option in the back of his mind, but Lundberg was still not ready to answer the call.
"I kept trying to come up with reasons to put an end to thoughts of priesthood - finding 'Miss Right,' the right career move, whatever," he said. "I thought once those things were settled, I would be able to forget about a vocation. When I met guys who had given all this up, who had a life before seminary, and decided to say yes regardless, and were glad they chose priesthood, that strengthened my desire to pursue the vocation."
Lundberg met these "guys" when he visited friends at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
"I was struck by how joyful the seminarians were, and how, despite many sacrifices made to pursue their calling, these were good guys who were happy with their decision," Lundberg said. "I could not get over that impression."
When he returned from the trip, he decided to see Father James Gould, then-diocesan vocations director.
Father Gould told Lundberg to "come back and see me in six weeks. In the meantime, make a sacrifice of something you like, pray and talk to some priests about your discernment."
Lundberg talked to Fathers John Heisler, Denis Donahue and Jerome Fasano, who he said all gave him good advice.
"Good priests, happy priests - these were the best selling points in my discernment," Lundberg said. "My confessor in college also had a big influence on me. He is a very good man, who loves the priesthood and the Church. He asked me to think about it, and even when I was thinking about graduate school, he wrote me a letter for 'one final sell.' He knew me well, and made a good argument that I think about the priesthood. I will be forever indebted to him for his encouragement, which definitely was a factor in my decision."
Although he's lived in many dioceses across the country, there was no question to Lundberg which city was home. He spent the majority of his young life living in Fairfax and attending St. Mary of Sorrows Church. He was confirmed there by Arlington Bishop John R. Keating. After his family moved to Texas, he said he always planned to return to Virginia.
"The priests I met in Arlington impressed me as happy, solid, good priests," he said.
Lundberg has continued to enjoy the presence of Arlington's priests during his formation and assignments at St. Rita, Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary Parishes in Alexandria and most recently St. William of York Parish in Stafford where he served as transitional deacon.
"I have enjoyed being in a military community, based on life in an Army family," he said about his diaconate assignment.
Lundberg's family has been "extremely supportive." His father, although he is Lutheran, has always encouraged him to attend church regularly, attend Catholic schools, and he placed an importance on prayer and family.
Although his parents never pushed him toward a priestly vocation growing up, they are now supportive and include updates on his path priesthood in the family Christmas letter every year.
"Leading up to ordination, everything is exciting and somewhat overwhelming," Lundberg said. "God's providence is everywhere, and everything reinforces for me that a priestly vocation is a gift of God's mercy. It is an invitation, very challenging and exciting to say yes to this."
Lundberg said that he is overwhelmed with the thought of hearing confessions and celebrating Mass, but that, "getting past all of the distractions and worries to what is going to happen is amazing.
"If guys would realize how wonderful the priesthood is, I think more would say yes," he said. "The goodness is sometimes obscured. This is really an incredible gift from God." Mary Frances McCarthy can be reached at mmccarthy@catholicherald.com.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2006