You are hereWeir takes the pulpit at St. James
For those who attend St. James Catholic Church, there has been a new face by the altar in July.
For the last 10 years, Father Bernie Weir, presided over St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa, but has now come to Washington to take over ministerial duties.
Weir grew up in Albia, just an hour and a half west of Washington, but is familiar with the area, having previously lived in Muscatine and Columbus Junction.
Weir attended seminary school in Chicago, and earned a graduate degree in counseling at Western Illinois University and also attended college at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. He has been preaching for 29 years.
What brings you to Washington?
I was sent. I was not planning on coming to Washington, because the previous pastor had not been here very long. I was not expecting it, and then the bishop called and asked if I could come here, which I was more than happy to do. It just wasn’t on my radar at all, and I’m glad to be here.
What do you think of Washington in the first month you’ve been here?
So far it’s fine. I’ve only gotten lost once, so that’s great. It’s an easy place to get around in, and I’m enjoying the parish. It’s very different than where I came from, and here they are very committed to technology, and so I have to learn a whole new skill set. I own all of the technology, I’m just not really good at it.
So you are getting a little extra training here?
Yes, the former priest was very good at those kinds of things, and this parish is very good with technology. I’m not, so I have to learn how to do all that.
What is your favorite thing about Washington so far?
I’m not sure; I’d have to think about that.
How did you get involved in being a priest?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t going to be. I knew it from the time I was very young that this is what I was going to do. It is definitely a calling. I’ve never regretted it, and I’m a happy priest. I enjoy what I do. It’s a good life.
What is the most challenging thing about being a priest?
The most challenging thing is making sure you don’t say something stupid. You are invited into lots of people’s lives in different ways, in happy times, sad times, boring times, and every time you need to make sure you don’t say stupid things at those times that aren’t helpful.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Being involved into people’s lives. I’m invited into people’s lives in many strange ways, and I find that a real honor to do that.
What is something about being a priest that people might not know about?
We work more than Sundays. There are always needs that people have for spiritual guidance and life guidance, and a lot of people forget that we do more work than on Sunday mornings.
Outside of the job, what are some things you do for fun?
I like bike riding, and I read a lot. I read spy books and science fiction books and those kinds of things. One of the things I’m really liking is that the bike trail here starts right behind my house. It makes it easy to use, and there is a good bike system here.
For books, what are your favorite series to read?
I hate reading series; I’m doing one right now with the Ender game series, but I try not to read them. You miss a book here, you miss a book there and it takes forever for them to come out. I like spy books and space books, and with it getting popular right now, I’ve read a lot of the zombie books.
What are your plans for the future in Washington?
I plan to be here for a long time, hopefully the next 10-15 years. One thing we need to do is get our attendance up in Spanish, and one thing this parish is also committed to is social justice. We are trying to develop that a little more, and they have good programs for that.