About our Pastor:
Born and raised in Seattle, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen holds degrees in psychology from the University of Washington and a Masters of Divinity and Sacred Baccalaureate from Mundelein Seminary. In addition to serving as pastor to Sacred Heart, he's also chaplain for the Newman Center on the campus of Western Washington University.
Weekly Reflection - First Sunday of Lent
February 18, 2018
I had the pleasure of celebrating the wedding of my youngest brother last weekend. It was extra special because in the process of preparation they had made a trip up to Bellingham and fallen in love with the area and our church so they ended up getting married here. This was awesome on a couple of accounts: 1) it cut down on my paperwork, and 2) it made for a destination wedding for the Altenhofens. This was fine from my brother and sister-in-law’s perspective because they both work for the church in the Seattle area, so it a nice buffer zone where they could invite everyone but not have to worry that every parishioner would show up. As I am the only local resident, my rectory was party central from Thursday through Sunday. My new sister-in-law’s family flew out from the east coast and rented a house just down the hill from Sacred Heart, she and her girlfriends rented another, and my family stayed with me. I hosted my older brother and his family, the brother right below me and his wife, and the groom all at the rectory. My parents and sister decided to do the drive back and forth so they could sleep in their own beds.
As a priest I have the opportunity to do a lot of weddings, but doing one for a sibling is something special. I think it has a lot to do with knowing the person so well. This gives you a unique perspective on the effects of the Sacrament. A few years ago I did the wedding for my other younger brother, and both times I was blown away by the drastic changes that took place in their lives when they met their future spouses. One would always hope that changes for the better come about when you meet someone you genuinely care for but this was above and beyond that. This was a transformation of life that I can only attribute to the power of God. This most recent wedding had the added bonus of being super involved with the bride to be. I actually met her before my brother and she started dating. As a friend, he had reached out as she was going through some transition in life and was looking for someone to talk to. I got to minister to her for a while before they started going out and by the time they decided to get married I knew her almost as well as I knew my brother. I can vouch for the transformation in her life as well due to their relationship. It speaks to the true power of the Sacrament when the individuals become not just better people, but closer to God through their relationship with one another. That’s what it’s all about and why God gave us the gift of matrimony; that we might all see his power working in our midst.
Fr. Joseph Altenhofen
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