On Saturday, April 28, 2018, a historic number of men will be ordained to the transitional diaconate for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by Bishop Joseph Binzer at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral at the 11:00 am Mass. We will be celebrating the ordination of 9 men, a number not seen since 1979! The last class with more men being ordained was in 1973 when then-Archbishop Joseph Bernardin ordained 20 men to the priesthood. Additionally, this class is nearly a perfect microcosm of the entire people of the Archdiocese as three are from the Westside of Cincinnati (one from St. Joseph, North Bend and two from St. John Neumann) and two are from the Eastside (St. Gertrude, Madeira and St. Susanna, Mason); one is from Dayton (Emmanuel); one is from Springfield (St. Raphael); one is from Piqua (St. Mary) and one is from Champaign County (Sacred Heart, St. Paris). Two of these men, are originally from Africa, one was born in Spain, one is a convert to Catholicism, one was homeschooled, and all have found their way, through the grace of God, to offer all his life to serve the people of God as a deacon and eventually as a priest! We praise God for his great generosity and mercy as we celebrate this gift to the Archdiocese!
Join us now in praying a Novena for these men leading up to the day of their ordination!
As these men prepare to receive this sacrament and make the promises of celibacy, obedience and prayer, we asked them what thoughts they had as the day draws near. Here is what they said:
“After nearly 8 years of seminary, in many ways, the quickly approaching Diaconate Ordination feels very surreal. Everything thus far has been building to this first of, God willing, two ordinations and it is hard to believe that soon the Bishop will be laying his hands on my head and proclaiming the words of consecration. At the conclusion of the prayer, I will be able to and asked to serve the Church and the people of God in new ways–Baptize, witness Marriages, assist at Mass, and preach!”
– Jeff Stegbauer, St. Susanna, Mason
“Pope Benedict XVI said that the role of the deacon is to be a herald for Christ. I’m looking forward to becoming a true herald of the Lord and accepting His call to be a voice that proclaims His joy, mercy, and love to the people whom He has redeemed.“
– Andrew Hess, St. Mary’s, St. Paris
“Although I am excited about all of the aspects of diaconate ministry, one of the things I am looking forward to is to be able to preach on a regular basis at the parish. At the same time, the faculties I will have next year to preach and to serve are a strong reminder of the grave responsibility I am being entrusted with. Please pray for me and for all of my classmates as we begin our ordained ministry.”
– Christian Cone-Lombarte, Emmanuel, Dayton
“To be ordained a deacon is to be given a great responsibility to serve the people of God. I know there are many people out there who need to experience God’s presence and love in their lives and as a deacon, I am ready to offer myself at their service, guided by the Spirit of God.”
– Elias Mwesigye, St. John Neumann, Cincinnati
“I would describe this time of preparation for deacon as a joyful anxiety. The future is in God’s hands and it is unknown to us so there is some anxiety to be had. On the other hand I have been preparing for this for 6 years and it feels great to be ordained a deacon for Christ’s Church.”
– Mark Bredestege, St. Joseph, North Bend
“I really feel excited about the upcoming ordination. I am very happy that I will be ordained soon and be able to preach, serve at the Altar of the Lord and in other capacities, as circumstances will allow. Ordination is a great gift from God. However, from the human point of view there can be fear regarding whether one lives up to the demands of a noble vocation as such, to serve others unreservedly just as Christ served us. Knowing that I shall not be alone, that Christ, who has called me, unleashes his graces to me if I dispose myself to them by being faithful to his word and seeking his guidance through prayer, encourages me. Our God is a loving God and his love for me gives me impetus to move forward. I believe he will not leave me alone so long as I remain in him.”
– Alex Biryomumeisho, St. John Neumann, Cincinnati
“The reality of ordination is setting in, or at least starting to. I am definitely looking forward to preaching. We’ve had a lot of time to learn the teachings and ways of the Church, and I’m really excited to be able to share those things with the faithful. However, this ordination will mean literally giving my life away. I will be giving myself over to God for the service of the Church, totally, and irrevocably. This is definitely scary – the questions definitely start sounding loud in your mind. “What if this isn’t for me? What if I can’t really do this? Can I really give everything up?” But the love of Jesus Christ that I’ve known in my life, and the support of my brothers here confirm me. I am confident that God’s grace can work, even through my weakness.”
– Ambrose Dobroszi, St. Gertrude, Madeira
“This is my 7th year in seminary, so the idea that ordination is mere days away is absolutely surreal. More than anything, I’m thankful and humbled that Christ has called me—through the Archbishop—to serve Him as a cleric of the Church. And, that service begins in an official capacity with ordination to the Diaconate this month.”
– Jedidiah Tritle, St. Raphael, Springfield
“I am very excited for my ordination to the diaconate. In many I still cannot believe that the day is approaching so soon. I feel very blessed to have been given a very supportive family, who has always encouraged my vocation and I am extremely grateful for all the people I have met throughout my time in seminary. The prayers and support of so many has enabled me to persevere in my vocation and prepare well for ordination.”
– Zachary Cecil, St. Mary, Piqua
The Archdiocese is blessed to be able to present two fantastic opportunities for Catholic parishes looking for activities for the children of the parish to engage in their faith while having a great time this Summer! Many parishes across the Archdiocese currently utilize Vacation Bible School programs that have been professionally produced and distributed by other Christian denominations. Many times these programs are chosen because of the high quality of the product and because of the ease of implementation. However, now there are two new great opportunities that provide these same elements while also being authentically and engagingly Catholic.
The first program is called Totus Tuus. Totus Tuus is Latin for “Totally Yours” which was the motto of the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II as he gave himself entirely to Mary as her son shortly after the death of his earthly mother. This program is led by four young adult missionaries who are trained in bringing to life the mysteries of the rosary and the sacraments while also engaging the youth with fun activities and challenging them to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Another perk of this program is that it is for grade school, middle school, and high school youth! Last year I sent two of my children through this program and they are still talking about the awesome experience they had last year. They also have shared their enthusiasm with their younger siblings as well. I highly recommend this program to all parishes and the Office for Evangelization and Discipleship only has a few more slots left to fill for this summer. Contact them soon!
The second program, Discovery Mission, is one that more closely resembles the classic Vacation Bible School model. This is a program that can be purchased and run through the parish religious education office and includes all the materials you need to put on your own week long program. What is different about this program is that it is entirely focused on helping young people recognize that they have been given a special mission by God and that living in relationship with Christ we will discover that mission and have the grace to live it out. Check out the materials and order this program today!
If you have been considering your call to the consecrated life, the month of March is going to be a virtual smorgasbord of opportunities for you to take the next step in your discernment. If you haven’t considered your vocation in the past, or are not currently feeling called to the consecrated life, we have a few opportunities for you as well!
March 8 from 8-9pm – CHOSEN: Holy Hour for Your Own Vocation @ Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood, OH- The Children of Mary host a monthly holy hour for people who are discerning their vocation and to pray for an increase of consecrated vocations. Come pray with us!
March 11th from 5-9pm– Cast Your Nets: Love Greater@ Sacred Heart of Jesus in McCartyville, OH – This is a high school youth rally/evening of awesomeness that includes a keynote presentation by husband and wife, Bradley and Meghan Barnes, live music by Kevin Schulze, workshops that help you put your faith into action, food, confessions and Eucharistic adoration! Cost for the event is $10 which includes the cost of the event tshirt!
March 14th from 5-8pm– RU Called? Dinner for Young Women@ St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon, OH – This evening dinner for young women discerning the consecrated life (in all its forms) will feature dinner and prayer with Bishop Joseph Binzer as well as the opportunity to speak with and learn from sisters from various communities who minister in and around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. There is no cost for this event. Register here!
March 15-17 – PCJ Spring College Live-in Retreat in Columbus, OH – This weekend retreat at the Pontifical College Josephinum is for all high school juniors and seniors who are considering their call to the Catholic priesthood. There is no charge for this wonderful weekend opportunity. All who are interested are asked to contact Fr. Schmitmeyer and to fill out the forms available online.
March 17th from 6-8pm– Run for the Call Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser @ St. Remy Hall in Russia, OH – This annual fundraiser organized and run by the Serra Club of Sidney/St. Mary’s will feature homemade sauce by Fr. Martin Fox, pastor of St. Remy, and proceeds all benefit our seminarians who find themselves in need of emergency financial assistance throughout the year.
March 18th from 3-5pm– Sr. Mary Xavier’s Story@ Russia High School in Russia, OH – This fun, family friendly event will feature local Anna native speaking about her experience of going from giving her all on the court at The Ohio State University to giving all of herself to God as a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. You don’t want to miss Sr. Mary Xavier join in the friendly basketball competition, too!
March 27th at 7pm – Chrism Mass @ St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, OH – It is at the Chrism Mass every year when the priests of the Archdiocese gather not only to receive the blessed oils for their parishes, but also to renew the promises they made upon their ordination and to receive encouragement from their shepherd, Archbishop Schnurr. We highly recommend attending this Holy Week Mass to be renewed in your own discernment journey and in the gift of the priesthood.
April 13-14 – Welcome Weekend@ Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, OH – This weekend retreat is for college age men and older who are discerning their call to the priesthood. This is a great next step in your discernment journey as you start to see just what it would be like to live in the seminary while continuing your discernment. Register for the weekend here.
It is flying around the internet right now! Jim Caviezel shocked about 8000 young adults this past week during the SLS18 Focus Conference by coming on stage as a trailer for his new movie, St. Paul, Apostle of Christ (in which he plays the part of St. Luke), was about to play. And he further shocked them by taking 15 minutes to teach them about vocation and our universal call to holiness and our responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Enjoy!
Many times throughout my work here at the Archdiocese I have been asked about ways to encourage religious vocations in our children. There are many ways to do this, of course, but the best way I have found is to make priesthood and religious life seem real. The best way to do that is to interact with priests and religious as often as you can, and the best place to do that is in your own home.
Recently, my family had the privilege of hosting our pastor and a couple seminarians for dinner. The evening went about as one would expect in house with 6 small children and three guests – adults attempting to talk between the constant requests for attention coming from each of the children. We made it through the meal and eventually, one toy truly caught the attention of our guests and became the center of our evening’s entertainment.
Yes, Legendary Yoda was teaching Father and our seminarian guests how to use the force and to defeat the Dark Side! And the kids were eating it up! The couldn’t believe that a priest and men studying to be priests would be so entertained by one of their toys! (And to be honest, it is pretty cool!) It was a special experience for them. But the fun didn’t stop with the movements and simple phrases of the mechanical toy.
One of the features of Master Yoda is that he answers “Yes or No” questions asked of him. We asked him several ridiculous questions when suddenly Father had the idea of asking him if each of the seminarians was going to be a priest. Much to the seminarians’ pleasure and relief, Yoda responded with an unequivocal “Yes” for both men. Then Father asked a few more questions which may change the lives of my children:
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Henry become a priest?”
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Julia become a nun?”
“Yes, is the answer I see.”
Of course it is true that our children know that Yoda is a motorized toy and cannot truly predict the future, but this interaction, although it was out of amusement, was a really important moment for them and you could see it in their faces as they lit up when Father mentioned their names specifically. Here’s why:
- Father is a figure that both their parents love and respect (and by extension so do they)
- this interaction was in their home, a place they associate with safety and comfort: hearing that they could be called to the priesthood or consecrated life now can be associated with safety and comfort
- Yoda did respond negatively to other questions (meaning, Yoda could have said “No” and he didn’t)
- Nobody in the room said that Yoda was crazy: they were affirmed not just by Yoda but by Father, the seminarians, their siblings and their parents
So, if you are looking for ways to encourage your son or daughter to consider the religious life here are a couple of very simple suggestions: pray for your children often; make the religious life seem like something normal, as normal as being a doctor or lawyer or carpenter; treat the priest or religious with love and respect; create opportunities for your children to interact with priests and religious, especially in your home. And if you happen to have a talking Yoda toy available, it can make for a very interesting evening.
Fr. Kyle Schnippel, the former vocation director here at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, has been working hard as a pastor of a region of three parishes in the Northwest corner of the I-275 loop. So hard, in fact, he realized rather quickly into his assignment that if he didn’t have an outlet to get his mind off his work, he would run himself ragged trying to keep up. So, from his love of brewing his own craft beers, Fr. Kyle’s scientific mind switched gears to the warmth of the oven and the fun of kneading dough.
Father began baking about 6 months into his parish assignment and quickly determined to try the next new recipe he could find. He joined in a King Arthur Flour baking challenge and showed off his successes on his Instagram account.
Quickly he built up quite a local following. One of those followers caught wind that the Great American Baking Show was holding auditions for their next season and strongly encouraged Father to tryout. With a couple of his favorite recipes, Father traveled to Georgia and then to the Northeast where he made it through the auditioning process and was ultimately offered one of 1o spots in “the Tent” in jolly old England.
On December 7th, his journey culminated in
a watch party at one of his parishes (click the link to view pictures and a great write up of the event), St. John Neumann, where he and more than 100 of his parishioners and friends gathered to watch the premier episode of the Great American Baking Show and what a great experience it was. While the result was not what anybody in the room had hoped (Fr. Kyle was kicked off at the end of the second episode), the joyful witness of a priest using his talents outside of the church was one that hopefully will continue to shed light on a vocation far too often seen only at the altar.
With that in mind, at the end of the viewing party, Fr. Kyle announced that another popular priest who’s great in the kitchen, Fr. Leo Patilinghug has agreed to come to St. John Neumann parish for a bake off between the two priests as the parish celebrates its patronal feast on January 20, 2018. More details will be coming from the parish in the coming weeks, but if you can’t wait try some more of Fr. Kyle’s wonderful baked goods, his parish region will be hosting watch parties for the next two weeks of the Great American Baking Show as well. This Thursday from 8-11pm the party will be in Francis Hall at Corpus Christi, 2014 Springdale Rd., Cincinnati, OH and next week’s watch party will be hosted on December 21 from 8-11 at St. John Neumann’s Daniel Hall, 12191 Mill Rd., Cincinnati, OH.
If you missed the first two episodes, you can still view them at abc.go.
Last week was National Vocation Awareness Week and it was full of great opportunities to pray together and to learn more about discerning the vocation to which God has called each of us. And the excitement of that week was peaked by the huge news coming out of our local seminary.
With more and more men responding to the call being placed on their hearts through the grace effected by our continued prayers, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West has run out of room and, with the future looking bright, it was time to expand and make room for 30 more men to study at this historic facility! Here is the coverage of the ground breaking ceremony which happened on November 2nd:
This news of an expanding seminary can be quite a shock to those who are still living with the negative view of the priesthood that has been around for almost 20 years here in the United States and one news station took the time to look much deeper and find the source of this rise in vocations is actually coming from the least likeliest of places – millenials:
In addition to that great news and wonderful news coverage, more than 75 communities from across the state of Ohio prayed together during the Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocations on Wednesday. Religious communities, parishes and even Catholic High Schools joined together to beg the harvest master to send more laborers into the harvest. It was a beautiful experience for many:
We had a beautiful holy hour! We had over 15 people in our small convent. – Sr. Ana, OSC from the Sisters of St. Clare Poor Clares
We had a wonderful experience at St. Augustine in Minster. Parishioners commented how much they enjoyed a dedicated hour focused on praying for vocations… – Barb from St. Augustine, Minster, OH
I had some good time to think about and pray for many of the priests and nuns who’ve been a part of my life, some whom I
haven’t thought about in years, and at least one person (the priest who baptized me) that I’ve never met. I also prayed in a special way for my kids and their vocations, some of which have already been discerned, and some which are still in the process. – Joe from Ascension, Kettering, OH
And finally, the Serra Club of Cincinnati was able to complete their 9 day Bible Reading Novena during which they dedicated nearly 12 hours a day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the scriptures for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
These dedicated prayers across the state of Ohio are truly having a great impact on our local church and priestly and religious vocations are seeing a great time of flourishing. May we all continue to pray for our men and women in formation and for each other that we may have the courage to seek God’s will in our lives.
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