Father George Grafsky, pastor of St. Anne in Le Sueur, also serves as a chaplain to the Le Sueur County Sheriff's Department.
"I called George
and put him in one of the worst situations probably," Struckman said.
doesn't have to do that, but I said, 'I need your help.' And together we pulled the bodies out."
This is just one of the many ways Father Grafsky
has helped Struckman and the Le Sueur County Sheriff's Department
perform what can be, at times, dreadful jobs.
In a recent interview with The Catholic Spirit
, Struckman mentioned multiple times that he
is "blessed" to have Father Grafsky
and two other chaplains as part of his
"A lot of things that happen out here are kind of forgotten about.
We really didn't have anything for us because we struggle at times on those scenes, too.
That's why I got George
It's not only about the citizens that we protect, it's about us, too," Struckman said.
As a police chaplain, Father Grafsky sometimes helps families work through the pain of having lost a loved one to an accident or their house to a fire.
thinks of his
chaplaincy work as a calling of sorts.
But it's a calling that evolved, much like his
call to the priesthood.
Father Grafsky was born to a Catholic mother and a Lutheran father - a source of tension at times - and priesthood was not something he thought about at first.
Yet, God had a plan for Father Grafsky
and gave him the push he
A Christian brother told him, "George
, you should be a priest" so that he
could help the church be the best it could be.
father, after finding out his
son wanted to join the priesthood, said "Well, if you're going to be a priest then I should be Catholic.
The elder Grafsky
joined the church a year before Father Grafsky was ordained in 1971 at St. Michael parish in North St. Paul.
Ministry of presence
vocation journey wasn't complete, however, since, not long after he
was ordained, the St. Paul
fire chief asked him to become a chaplain for the St. Paul Fire Department
said yes, not knowing that it would become an important part of his
Since then, Father Grafsky
has served with numerous police and fire departments in Minnesota including Pine Island, New Prague, Montgomery and currently Le Sueur.
"It's a calling.
Not every priest or minister would be good at it," said Father Grafsky
In addition to the sacraments he
also brings a "ministry of presence" to the families, firefighters and police officers he
serves - oftentimes he
never even says a word at the scene.
"It's about bringing faith to people, letting them know God is there.
Renewing and re-strengthening their faith," said Father Grafsky
This can be a tough job to do, at times even for Father Grafsky
Struckman described a situation where there was a boy who drowned who had made his
first Communion the day before.
stayed with the mother as she
watched Struckman carry the boy out of the water.
"I said nothing.
I sat there and listened, held her
hand," Father Grafsky
For Struckman the emotional, humorous side that comes so naturally for Father Grafsky
is a blessing for the sheriff's department.
"We could not be emotionally involved.
We are supposed to be these big iron people, but we're not.
And when George
came into it, I started watching people and then I knew we needed help.
Struckman said Father Grafsky has become such an important person in his life and the lives of his fellow police officers that the chaplain is one of the first people to be informed if a horrible event has happened, even if he is in the middle of celebrating Mass.
"People say that if a siren goes off . . . my ears go red and I start talking faster.
At Mass I've
seen officers stand at the back of church and I go, 'This can't be good,'," Father Grafsky
continues to see his
chaplain role as "amazing."
"I know there are times I go and I'm like, 'What . . . are we doing here?' and the answer to that is 'I don't know but I just need to be here,' " said Father Grafsky