During his trips to study rock formations and other natural phenomena, Mueggenborg said that he would discuss his Catholic faith with his geology classmates.
“I began to realize that discussions of faith were of greater interest than conversations of science. Those discussions, combined with the practice of praying the Divine Office, led to becoming the chief ‘Catholic Resource’ for questions by classmates concerning the faith,” he wrote in an autobiographical article posted to a website where he formerly served as pastor.
But Mueggenborg said that he was still closed off to the possibility of becoming a priest at that time, until he was asked to be an altar server at a Mass for his aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary.
“The priest who celebrated the Mass was Father Stanley Rother. I knew nothing of him, not even his name, prior to that Mass and yet was captivated by the deep spiritual presence that surrounded him,” Mueggenborg said.
“There was a spirit of profound peace and love and filled the room when he entered. I noticed that presence and it made an impact on me. He possessed the qualities of character that I desired most yet had not found in my secular pursuits of college life. As a result of that Mass, I began allowing myself to once again consider the possibility of becoming a priest.”
A few months after this encounter, Blessed Stanley Rother was martyred in the rectory where he served as a missionary priest in Guatemala in 1981.
“The witness of his radical commitment to Jesus Christ and his love for the people left a life-long impression on me. I will be forever grateful to him for that impact. To honor the influence he had on my journey to priesthood, I used his chalice to celebrate my first Mass as a priest on July 16, 1989,” he said.