NEW TIMES Has church attendance been up or down in recent years?
HOLTERHOFF In our parish, it’s going up. It’s more than doubled since I’ve been here. The only church people know is their local parish, and when you serve them, the attendance goes up.
NEW TIMES What was the most surprising aspect of your work?
HOLTERHOFF I didn’t have many surprises at the beginning, but after 40 years, it’s surprising how much the priesthood changes you and how much the church itself changes.
NEW TIMES What’s the most rewarding aspect?
HOLTERHOFF Helping people. A priest is able to be there for the highlights of life—weddings, baptisms—and the most difficult aspects of life. It’s amazing how much confidence people place in you.
NEW TIMES Is it stressful keeping everyone’s secrets after confession?
HOLTERHOFF It’s not something that comes to me. It goes to God. I’m just the means by which their burden is taken away, and I help them know that they are forgiven. ∆