Maryknoll’s New Missionary Priest
Minnesota man to become Maryknoll’s newest priest.
Apostles Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishing on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus said, “Come follow me.” Shaun Crumb, who will become Maryknoll’s newest priest on May 30, also traces his service vocation to a seaside setting—the fishing resort his parents owned on Lake Minnewaska in Glenwood, Minn. There, he says, he, his two older sisters and younger brother were constantly on call to help respond to tourists’ needs.
“Serving others was part of growing up,” says Crumb. So was practicing his faith. Randy and Judie Crumb set the spiritual course for their children. “My parents invited us to come to church, but they weren’t forceful. They led by example,” recalls Crumb, now 36.
At Sacred Heart Church in Glenwood, where Crumb was an altar server, Father Eb (Eberhard) Schefers was also a spiritual guide. “He was a humble, loving guy,” says Crumb of his former pastor. “He would come over to our house and have a beer with my dad. He was holy but not in a preachy way.”
After attending local public schools, Crumb was accepted at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., where he majored in social work and minored in theology. “Benedictines, who live a monastic life, run St. John’s. They would invite us students to join them for prayer,” says Crumb. “They also place a strong emphasis on service.” The tall, lanky Minnesotan participated in short-term mission experiences, mostly in needy U.S. areas. “Those trips opened my eyes to diversity as well as poverty and discrimination,” he says.
His eyes were opened to another reality after he graduated from college in 2001 and volunteered to teach English for a year in Jilin City in northeast China through the Maryknoll China Teachers Project. “I got to see Maryknollers in action,” he says. He taught with Maryknoll Fathers Brian Barrons and Larry Radice and Brother Joseph Bruener. In a country where proselytizing is forbidden, he says, those missioners proclaimed the Gospel through their actions. “They were there for and with the people and seemed to find God in what they were doing,” he says.
After China, Crumb returned to Minnesota, where he took a job as a campus minister at his alma mater while earning a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. Now he was the one planning mission immersion trips. Taking students to places like Peru and Uganda, “re-sparked overseas mission for me,” says Crumb. “I saw missioners empowering people and thought, ‘I want to do this too.’ ” In August 2008, he joined the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers as a seminarian.
His four years of theological studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and living with other Maryknoll priest and Brother candidates strengthened his desire to be a missionary priest, he says, but it was his three years on overseas training in Cochabamba, Bolivia, that confirmed his call.
Living with a local family for six months while he was studying Spanish gave him a taste of the Bolivian culture that he says will remain with him. “The people were so hospitable,” Crumb says, “and they know how to celebrate life and be present to each other.”
His overseas training program also gave Crumb a taste of a variety of ministries, including tutoring young children in an urban after-school program, working with older students in a rural boarding school, doing parish work and prison ministry, and working in the diocesan pastoral youth office.
Such experiences helped put his vocation into focus. “Being a missionary priest means doing sacramental work and also being in the streets with the people,” he says. “Instead of having my own family, I will be a Father to the larger family. I am called to live like Jesus: eating with sinners, healing the sick, sharing the Good News.”
Where that call will take him after ordination is yet to be determined. But Crumb is certain of one thing: he will not go alone.
With daily prayer to sustain him, he draws inspiration from the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, recounted in the Gospel of Luke (24:13–35). “They walk with Jesus, but they don’t even realize it,” Crumb says. “Jesus allows them to recognize him. Many people have helped me recognize Jesus. I look forward to walking with people in getting to know God better. We are on a journey together. Jesus invites us to walk with him.”