Seminarian Shannon Aguare

By Cody Tredik

For Shannon Aguare, both the physical foundation of his home parish and his spiritual foundation, rest firmly on the faith of his family. “I am so inspired by stories of my great grandparents. In their time, Little Flower Parish in Browning was built with rock from the family ranch,” he said. “My faith and my love of the Church were instilled in me by my family from the very beginning.”

Born in Tacoma, Wash., Shannon’s family moved often. “My father was a federal officer, which meant that I was raised all over the northwest. Growing up, I attended 14 different schools before we settled outside of Browning when I was in 7th grade.” In his childhood, Shannon was already actively involved with his faith and his parish community. “I remember that even as early as kindergarten I had a love for faith. I had a very strong attachment to my grandmother, Nancy, who would take me with her to daily Mass. As I grew up I became more involved in ministries, sang in the choir, and attended youth camps.”

Shannon became increasingly interested in politics and ran for the Montana House of Representatives in 2006, where he served until 2010. During his time there he was elected House Majority Whip. In 2010 he served in the Montana Senate for District 8. His committee work included initiatives on economic development in rural and native America, wind energy, and family asset building programs.

“I believe that politics has prepared me to be a better servant to God,” he said. “As a politician, I strived to listen well to the needs around me, and then worked hard to advocate for them. As a priest I can expand and build on this service by helping communities be stronger in faith, and in love for one another.”

After leaving the political world in 2013, Shannon returned home to his family for a year, where he was able to discern what was next for his life. “It was during this time that I was asked by a former professor, who was also the director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of North Central Montana in Great Falls, if I would come and take over as Director.”

For over 50 years, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has worked in Great Falls and beyond, currently providing a food bank, thrift store, and veteran’s homeless shelter. As director, Shannon planned and oversaw the creation of the Grace Home, the first north central Montana veteran’s homeless shelter. “This is transitional housing for homeless veterans in the community. We would also go out with clothing and food to the bridges to offer service directly to those suffering from homelessness. It was important to bring a new level of awareness to the community about the needs of this group, and bring faith back as a primary focus of the organization.”

Of the work, Shannon said; “It was a very rewarding experience in many ways, but the thankfulness that we encountered, and the beauty of seeing faith in action, was the push that sent me into seminary. As I discerned this, there was a quote that stuck with me: ‘Blessed are those who give without remembering, and those who receive without forgetting.’”

Currently studying at Mt. Angel Seminary in Mt. Angel, Ore., he will complete his undergraduate studies in May, and begins graduate studies in Theology this August. “It has been an incredible two years,” he said. “I’m learning every day to seek the things above, to take words like joy, peace, love, and to live them by putting them into action.”

“I’m very excited to be a servant in the Diocese of Helena, for I know that the peace of Christ resides here. I’m most looking forward to celebrating the sacraments. Baptizing newborns, ministering to the sick, and being a part of those special family moments, that’s what excites me most.”