Seminarian snapshots

The Diocese of St. Cloud has 16 seminarians in priestly formation at five seminaries.

Some men enter the seminary right after graduating from high school or while they are attending their first four years of college. These men enter at the college level, or minor seminary. After graduation, they move on to four years of theology at a major seminary.

Other men discern their calling to the priesthood after they have completed college. These men enter what is called “pre-theology,” usually at a major seminary for two years, and then enter four additional years of theology.

In honor of National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 6-12, The Visitor is featuring “snapshots” of a few of our diocese’s seminarians, who share something about their vocational calling or seminary life.

Brandon Eich
Brandon Eich

Brandon Eich
Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Winona
College 1
Christ the King Parish, Cambridge

“When was the first time you started considering a vocation to the priesthood?”

The first time I started thinking of a priestly vocation was when I was about five. My parish’s religious education coordinator, Greg Kuhn, was the one who first planted this idea, or spiritual seed, in my mind and, more importantly, my heart. The idea of “sitting in the big comfy chair, wearing those big cloaks, and telling great stories” sounded awesome to me! Over the course of the next 10 years, with the help of prayer, my family and Greg, that seed started to grow and take root. When I was 16, I asked God what I was to do with my life, and the one word he placed on my heart was “father.” The father of a family or of a parish? I wasn’t sure. When I graduated high school, I decided to follow my passion for cooking and the idea of a priestly vocation started to fade.

In the summer of 2015, I attended a healing Mass, and I felt the Holy Spirit stir the idea of the priesthood within me. I talked with my priest about it, and over the course of the next six months, after much prayer and multiple retreats, God answered my question: Which “father” do you want me to be? The Father of a parish.

Since my first thought of this vocation, God has graced me with much more peace, joy and love than I ever could have imagined, so that someday I may have the honor of being a shepherd to God’s sheep, while also gaining the opportunity to enjoy those childish amenities.

Nicholas Johnson
Nicholas Johnson

Nicholas Johnson
St. John Vianney College Seminary, St. Paul
College 2
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Isanti

“When was the first time you started considering a vocation to the priesthood?”

The first time I considered a vocation to the priesthood was during an experience I had in eighth grade at a regular Sunday vigil Mass. At the moment of consecration followed by the elevation by the priest of the Sacred Species, I was struck with somewhat of an ecstasy in which I was given an overwhelming and exclusive desire to be on the altar performing in the person of Christ the very same consecration of the Eucharist from mere bread and wine into the actual body and soul of our dear Lord, Jesus Christ.

This desire remained constant throughout the rest of the evening and has remained with me up until this present day. In addition, God instilled within me a much deeper realization that Our Lord truly is being sacrificed again and again at every Mass that takes place throughout the world solely for the sake of uniting himself with us spiritually upon our consuming him. This was a grace which, although I was undeserving, was given to me as a supernatural experience during which God in a very direct way moved my soul to desire the priesthood. This has been my guiding arrow in how I have discerned since then and is the reason, among others, why I am currently serving with confidence the Diocese of St. Cloud as a seminarian.

Gregory Sauer
Gregory Sauer

Gregory Sauer
St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul
Theology 2
St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, Long Prairie

“In seminary, what are some meaningful highlights of preparing for priesthood?”

One of the highlights of being in seminary is the opportunity to travel. Every January, the theology classes at the St. Paul Seminary travel to a different place. We have traveled to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life, Ireland, the Holy Land and Rome. On these trips, we are able to experience the Universal Church and different cultures. As an undergraduate, I was able to spend a semester abroad in Rome. That experience helped me to appreciate the Universal Church in a new way. It was amazing to be able to see people from all around the world coming together to pray.

Traveling also deepens the fraternal bond that we have. When traveling, we are all there for a common purpose. The same is true in the seminary: we are all here to become priests. This creates a unique bond between us. There are many superb men in the seminary, and it is a joy to be able to pray, travel, go to class, and play sports with them. Not only is it enjoyable to spend time with each other, we also help each other. One way we help each other is by example. One example of this is seeing classmates preach. Seeing both their successes and mistakes has helped me to become a better preacher.

Deacon Derek Weichmann
Deacon Derek Weichmann

Deacon Derek Wiechmann
St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul
Theology 4
St. Rose of Lima Parish, St. Rosa

“In seminary, what are some meaningful highlights of preparing for priesthood?”

An important part of my day in the seminary is when I pray the rosary. I usually like to pray the rosary in the evening so that I can place everything from that day in our Mother’s hands, that she may bring it to her son, Jesus. It is also a time for me to pray for all those who have asked me for my prayers throughout the day or to pray for those who I know are hurting or are in need of encouragement. It is important for a seminarian to have a close relationship with Mary because as a mother she will help us with our studies and always bring us closer to her son, Jesus.

The motto of St. John Paul II’s papacy was “Totus Tuus,” which is Latin for “totally yours.” Throughout his life, he grew in a close relationship with Mary and saw her as his own mother. It is important for seminarians to also adopt Mary as their mother because she is always rooting for us, she is always leading us to her son. From the cross Jesus gave us his mother (John 19:25-27), and Mary is especially the mother of all priests.

About The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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