From The Parochial Vicar’s Desk
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you for the kindness with which you have welcomed me to your parish! I have not had much of an opportunity to introduce myself yet, and I thought this column would be a good place to do so. Yet, rather than trying to weave together some cohesive story of my life, I thought it would be more interesting to pose and answer a few of the most common questions I have encountered over the past two years of priesthood. And the first question, by a landslide, is:
“How tall are you?”
-I am six foot five. I did not, however, play basketball.
“What’s your last name again?”
-Cone-Lombarte. I suppose it deserves some explanation. My last name is confusing because it is actually two last names. My mother is from Spain, and it’s the practice there to pass on both the father’s last name and the mother’s last name together, with a hyphen between them. Cone is my father’s last name. Lombarte is my mother’s last name. Or it’s her last name from her father’s side, to be more precise. At any rate, this explains why I simply go by “Father Christian.”
“Where are you from?”
-I grew up in an Air Force family, so we moved quite often. My father’s first assignment was to Zaragoza, Spain, where he met and married my mother. I was born in Spain and, as a consequence, enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship (which is to say, I go through a slightly shorter customs line when I fly to Europe). From there, we moved to Washington state, then California, Italy, England, and finally Ohio. Fairborn has been home since my Sophomore year of high school.
“What was your favorite place to live?”
-Italy, hands down.
“What school did you go to?”
Once I came to Ohio, I went to Beavercreek High School. After that, I studied Mechanical Engineering at Wright State before entering Mount Saint Mary’s of the West Seminary here in Cincinnati.
“How did you know you were called to be a priest?”
-I hadn’t given it serious consideration up through high school and even my first year in college. In my second year, though, I started thinking I wanted to do something with my life that involved dealing with people more than dealing with things, which led me to decide engineering was probably not what I was aiming for. I still wasn’t thinking of the priesthood. I was actually thinking of starting a coffee and pastry shop. But the more I thought about that and other options, the more I realized that I had no idea what direction things would take in my life or what would be best for me. It was kind of a light bulb moment when I realized that I actually needed to ask God what His will was for my life. I made a short prayer each day for discernment and, by the end of the year, I felt drawn to the priesthood.
“What are your favorite things about being a priest?”
-Offering the Mass is up top, of course. Hearing sincere confessions and being able to offer the grace of God in that moment. I also particularly like to celebrate Baptisms. From time to time, I have been able to offer or to participate in Masses for particular feasts or intentions which make full use of the Church’s aesthetic and musical tradition—these are high points in the year for me! In tandem with the sacramental life, I have always enjoyed teaching catechesis.
“Do you have any hobbies?”
-I read and take walks daily, which helps keep me sane, and I love to cook. On a regular basis, I make sourdough. When I have some substantial time away, my favorite thing to do is hike, especially up mountains. I also enjoy stargazing from time to time.
“Do you have a favorite book or author?”
-Most of my favorite spiritual reading is from the Carmelites, especially St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. In terms of fiction, Tolkien is definitely up there but I would probably say my favorite author is Sigrid Undset.
“Favorite national park?”
-I think it’s a toss-up between Glacier, Grand Tetons, and Zion.
“Are you all settled in?”
-Most of the practical things about moving to a new place are taken care of, but I am eager to settle in in a fuller sense by getting to know all of you.
Hopefully that serves as enough of an introduction for now. As a final note, you should know that I’m bad with names, so please keep introducing yourselves to me!
Yours in Christ,