By Kristen Miller
DARWIN, MN - Father John Pearson has been in the priesthood for the past 42 years, and he is happy to be serving the St. John’s Parish in Darwin as of July 1.
Having spent two years overseeing five parishes in the Benson area, Pearson is relieved to be down to one. He is also responsible for sacramental ministries for St. Gertrude’s in Forest City.
“I’m looking forward to continuing the work of evangelizing and bringing people to Christ,” Pearson said.
One of his goals is to get more young people back into the church. For him, the best way to do that is to be honest and frank with them.
“It’s a known fact that if people go to church, they live longer, are happier, and have a better well-being,” he said.
Pearson also wants to get people, parishioners especially, out of the death wish mentality that the church doors are doomed to close.
“I think we should be building instead of closing,” he said.
St. John’s membership has been holding steady at about 321 families and more than 1,000 members. St. Gertrude’s has 121 families.
He is hoping he can make St. John’s grow by increasing its membership.
Since his arrival at St. John’s Parish, Pearson has been pleased with the acceptance he has received and the friendliness of the parishioners.
“I’m very happy to be here, and I look forward to great things,” he said.
Pearson does admit he has his own style of preaching that of concern and reaching out to people, he said.
“I think prayer is very important,” Pearson said.
It’s also important for him to make himself as available as possible to his parishioners and to be attentive of their needs.
Unlike many priests who were baptized into the church and grew up in it, Pearson has a little different story.
Pearson was baptized Catholic, raised Lutheran, and belonged to the Assembly of God church for four years.
He decided he wanted to be a minister. Through his studies, Pearson came to realize that Catholicism was the only religion that didn’t have a human founder, he said.
“It was founded by the Lord,” Pearson said, explaining this can be traced back to the Bible with the apostle Peter.
Pearson then recited Matthew 16:16-19 (New International Version).
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Pearson studied philosophy for four years at St. John’s in Collegeville, from 1958 to 1962, and then studied two years in theology.
He furthered his studies in Rome from 1964 to 1966, where he received his masters degree in scripture and was ordained a priest.
His first love as a priest is saying Mass.
“That’s why I’m ordained to bring the sacrament of God Jesus to the people,” Pearson said.
A well-traveled man, having visiting many different corners of the world including Ireland and Egypt, Pearson’s favorite place is Rome.
“I love the Roman people . . . it’s where Christianity began,” he said, pointing out the awesomeness of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Pearson just recently celebrated his 70th birthday.
He likes to garden, go for walks, and go out to dinner.
Pearson is also an avid reader of books that include novels, mysteries, theology, and others regarding faith and morals.
Church hours at St. John’s include 5 p.m. Saturday at the church in Darwin, 8:30 a.m. Sunday in Forest City, and 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the St. John’s Education Center near the Dassel-Cokato High School.