Today’s Vocation Story comes from Fr. David Endres, ordained in 2009, son of Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield, OH. Fr. Endres is currently the co-director of field education and assistant professor at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati.
Growing up in Fairfield, Ohio, near Cincinnati, my experience was of the typical “suburban Catholic” variety. We were part of a large parish of over 2,000 families, Sacred Heart Church. It was there that I was baptized, made my first communion, first confession, and was confirmed. My sister and I attended the parish grade school and then a co-ed Catholic high school, Badin High School in Hamilton. Much of our lives revolved around parish and school life. Our friends and neighbors – and at times it seemed that all those we knew – were Catholic.
My call to the priesthood had its origin in this community of faith in which I grew up. Serving Mass, helping out at the parish festival, even working for our parish in the maintenance department over summer breaks – these were some of the ways that I became connected to the local Church. My family also helped me grow in faith. I was fortunate to have faithful parents, grandparents, and even a priest in my family (my uncle, Father Albert Lauer, was a Cincinnati diocesan priest).
At the age of fourteen I first began to think about the priesthood. I was scared but intrigued by the thought, but probably more scared than anything. I resisted the thought of priesthood at first and supposed my life would take the normal path of marriage and fatherhood. Still I thought that I would do my part for vocations by praying for more men to accept the call to priesthood – but not me, other guys! Not long after, the obvious question popped into my mind: “Why not you?” Though I initially tried to flee from the idea, I kept it in the back of my mind. I thought I could shake the thought of priesthood by becoming more active in the faith – praying a bit more, serving Mass, and doing spiritual reading. The result, however, was quite the opposite! The more deeply I entered into the mystery of Christ and the Church, the more I felt called to priestly service.
As a college student at Xavier University, the idea of priesthood remained. During these years I began to attend daily Mass, began meeting with a spiritual director, and serving others through my involvement in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. My prayer and work indicated that I might have a priestly vocation, but I was still unsure. I remained “self-conscious” of even the possibility of priesthood. What would my friends think? I was also concerned with the challenges of priesthood and wondered why anyone would “choose” celibacy. Through prayer, I started to come to the peace of seeing that what God calls each person to – whether priesthood or married life – is that which will make him most happy and fulfilled in life.
Yet, I decided to wait a few years to enter the seminary. After graduating from college, I pursued graduate studies in Church history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, I had the opportunity to serve Mass each day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and also taught two theology courses to undergraduates. As much as I enjoyed my work and study, I still felt drawn toward the priesthood. Though I was still not sure about my vocation, I knew that I had to explore it further. I could not discern entering the seminary any longer. After all, it had already been ten years of on and off discernment! I knew there was only one way to find out if it was God’s will that I be a priest: to apply to the seminary.
After applying and being accepted, I began studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati in 2005. As those years of study, prayer, and preparation unfolded I became more convinced that priesthood was God’s will for me. On May 23, 2009, I was ordained to the priesthood along with six classmates. Though it’s only been a few years since ordination, priesthood has been an amazing journey – filled with lots of challenges, but much joy.
How often do you take time to dive more deeply into the study of your faith? What teachings of the Catholic Church do you find most fascinating or most difficult to understand? How has the study of the Catholic Faith influenced your life?
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