Today’s vocation story comes from Jeff Stegbauer, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in his second year of college seminary studies at Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary on the campus of Marian University in Indianapolis. Jeff is a son of St. Susanna parish in Mason, OH.
About six and a half years ago, while I was in the seventh grade, God began nudging me toward the seminary. It all started after I served for my older brother’s Confirmation. I went up for a picture with Bishop Moeddel afterward and asked, “I held your mitre hat thing during the Mass, may I have a picture with you?” Bishop Moeddel then surprised me by immediately handing me his crosier and placing his mitre on my head for the picture. Later that day, my grandma saw the picture and immediately proclaimed, “Oh Jeff, we’ve never had a pope in the family before! You can be the first!” I laughed with her, and didn’t think much of her outlandish statement.
Over the next few years, I realized that God had other plans. There was never a BAM moment, but rather small thoughts and nudges from God. Pope was soon replaced with priest in my thoughts. I became more aware of how at home I felt at church, on mission trips, and with youth ministry. All throughout high school I remained open to where God wanted me to God, but I remained hesitant, very afraid. I didn’t want to rush into the seminary because it was all I had known. So this led me to dating a girl for all of my sophomore year. However, throughout the relationship, I realized that I was running away from God through prolonging the relationship. I was using the relationship as an excuse to not spend time listening to God. Because of this, I discerned that we needed to end the relationship, so I would be able to spend some time re-centering my life on God’s plan for me.
The final two years of high school pointed me towards the seminary. Happiness and peace were key. When I was discerning the priesthood, life wasn’t easy or simple, but it made more sense. Also, life was definitely more happy and peaceful. When I rejected the call and ran, life was confusing, difficult, and frustrating. Over time, I noticed this pattern and knew I had to trust it and take the next step. So, with the support of many family and friends I visited Bishop Simon Brute’ College Seminary and fell in love with it. I needed to enter the seminary to try and eliminate any doubt; thus, to properly discern God’s call with the help of the formation staff. To see if the God is calling me to the priesthood or not.
Throughout my freshman and half of my sophomore year of seminary, God has been confirming His call. There is a sense of belonging, peacefulness, and happiness that lies within the walls of the Seminary Castle. I remain in the seminary to more fully learn how to have complete faith and give my life over to God. This past semester, the seminary has aided me in trying to filter out the messages from God that seem to be pointing me towards mission work through the context of the priesthood. Over the summer, while I was in Belize, someone asked me why I feel called to the priesthood, without hesitation I responded, “To bring the Eucharist and the other Sacraments to those in world who do not have a priest.” This energy and excitement behind this statement seemed to be God nudging me once again. Currently, I am afraid of where God may be taking me, but I am mostly scared of the unknown because I have no idea where God is pointing me. But, as I have found out through entering the seminary, God’s path will lead to peace and His love. So for now, I am left to pray, listen, and become a stronger Catholic man.
Have you had experiences of conflicting voices in your discernment journey? How have you navigated through those competing options? How has your relationship with Christ helped you to determine what was of God and what was not?
Click here for more Vocation Stories.
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- Priesthood Ordination Novena: Day 9
- Priesthood Ordination Novena: Day 8
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- Discerning Your Vocation: Devotion to Mary
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- Discerning Your Vocation: Talk to a Vocation Director
- Interview with Fr. Tim Fahey
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- Priesthood Ordination 2016 (Vocation Office version)
- College Seminary
This video features our young men who are in college seminary for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
- The Gift of the Priesthood: Parents of the Called
What do parents have to say about their sons call to the priesthood? We took the opportunity to interview a few wonderful parents to learn more about the call to become a Catholic priest and the transformation of their son.