Welcome Fr. Bill Heric!
Father Bill Heric; His Calling as a Pastor, His Favorite Meal and…The Simpsons
by Susie Lane
A changing of the guards has taken place here at St. Bridget’s leaving many of our parishioners wondering, who is our new pastor? I recently had a chance to sit down to learn a little more about him, his interests, his goal for St. Bridget’s and most importantly, what is his favorite meal.
As we met one Friday morning after Mass, Father Heric seated across from me at a table in the library at church, I noticed immediately, his warm and caring nature. It was evident that he was genuinely interested in our conversation and that he looked forward to our visit.
First off, what would you like to be called? Father Heric, Father William or Father Bill?
“While I was teaching at Eastside Catholic, I was known as Father Heric, as in a school setting, it felt more appropriate to be called by my last name. However, now at St. Bridget, I would prefer to be known simply as Father Bill.”
What is one thing you’d like the parish to know about you?
“I think when I tell you my favorite TV show, it will explain a lot about my personality. I love “The Simpsons” and have seen just about every episode, many of them multiple times.”
Fr. Bill appreciates the diversity of the characters and how they poke fun at every aspect of life. He feels that the show in many ways, is a satire on modern culture, but one that does finally highlight the good and beautiful things about life.
What’s your favorite meal and/or restaurant?
“I love Italian food, especially a good Chicken Parmesan. Also love pasta with pesto sauce, although my doctor is encouraging me to go on a low carb diet.” Fr. Bill does not have a current favorite restaurant but hopes to learn more about the local offerings in NE Seattle.
iPhone or Droid or other?
“iPhone all the way!”
If you could compare yourself to any animal, which would it be and why?
“I think a Koala Bear would explain me pretty well as an animal. They are cute and cuddly but can be aggressive when necessary.”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time, hobbies, interests?
“I love to walk in the community, especially around school campuses like Seattle U and UW which I find calming and also energizing.. I also love to go to the movies, spend time in coffee shops and enjoy listening to audiobooks.” I have a large extended family and there is usually a gathering of the clan coming up which I cherish.”
Yes, he has Amazon Audible and loves it.
Okay on to more serious questions...
What has been your most meaningful work experience?
“I have been ordained a priest for 38 years. 20 of those years I spent at Eastside Catholic. Schools are their own kind of faith community and celebrate many significant life moments. During those times, I thoroughly enjoyed mentoring students, and preparing them for their futures. Since I entered the minor seminary at the age of 14, in many ways, I didn’t have the “typical” high school experiences that many youth have like football games, clubs, social events, etc. Having the opportunity to relive those years through the lives of the Eastside Catholic students and to help mentor them was deeply gratifying. I am very much looking forward to being present at our own ASB School, Villa Academy, and Bishop Blanchet High School.”
In addition, Fr. Bill spent time in the 1980s as a hospital chaplain on First Hill during the AIDS epidemic. During that time he spent countless hours ministering to the sick and dying as well as helping families to come to terms with the stigma of the virus. He feels very strongly with the church that every person is a human being with inherent dignity, and is worthy of our respect and love.
How old were you when you realized your vocation to the priesthood? How was it revealed to you? How did you react? How did your family and friends react?
Mass has always been a place of comfort for Father Bill. Starting at the early age of 8 years old, he loved attending Mass, often on his own. Being the oldest child in a family of 7, he found that Mass was an opportunity for him to have time to himself and reflect. It was also the place that he found Christ and the church to be the center of what his life was meant to be all about.
When he was slightly older, he as given the opportunity to be an altar server.
“I loved being an altar server, starting in the fourth grade, age 9. I loved it so much that it became known in our parish that “Heric will always sub for you’.”
In 8th grade, his parish priest asked Fr. Bill if he might be interested in a vocation. He felt the more he served at church, the more he was possibly being called. Fr. Bill recalls talking with his mother about the idea. While she gave it some pause, she was eventually supportive of his decision to attend minor seminary for his high school years to discern a better understanding of the vocation. It was also the first time in his life that he finally had his own room!. Fr. Bill would spend 12 years in the seminary, for which he has no regrets. He feels being a priest is absolutely his calling in life.
If you hadn't become a priest, what career would you have pursued?
“I think I would have been a teacher and part of a school, and perhaps a coach. I appreciate the team aspect of sports, for instance, in basketball.”
What do you love most about being a priest and why?
“I have the unique privilege of celebrating so many significant moments in the lives of people; Mass and all aspects of life from baptism to death. I enjoy preaching the gospel.” I believe in the mission we all share in the church to proclaim the light and love of Christ to the world!
What are your short term and long term goals from St. Bridget’s?
“I plan to be here for at least 6 years, perhaps even longer, and want to give the parish a sense of stability. I’m looking forward to learning more about the community’s mission and core priorities as well as doing my best to bring alienated Catholics back. I look forward to welcoming new folks, new parishioners and new Catholics to the church, as well.”
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Father Bill and feel he will be a wonderful addition to our parish. It is evident through his work over the years that he is caring and kind and genuinely wants to get to know each and every one of us. I have no doubt that he will he will lead us to great things here at St. Bridget’s. Next time you’re at Mass, stop by, introduce yourself and say hello. He would love to get to know you and your family.