‘Growing in holiness’ is new mission for men’s community in St. Cloud

When Father Scott Pogatchnik founded the Marmion House in St. Cloud in 2014, his vision was that it would serve as a place of discernment for young, Catholic men interested in the possibility of entering the priesthood.

“As an intentional Christian community,” he explained in an October 2014 interview with The Visitor, “the hope is that these young men can develop their identity — first as sons of God, then as disciples and then to be able to fully discern what a vocation is.”

While that vision has continued under the leadership of Father Ben Kociemba, who now oversees the Marmion House and serves as associate director of vocations for the diocese, Father Kociemba saw a need to adapt the discernment house.

Channa Kumarage prays with a group of men Feb. 28 at a gathering at Marmion House in St. Cloud after sharing a meal and before participating in a discussion on what it means to be called by God to a vocation. (Dianne Towalski/The Visitor)

“The Marmion House will focus less on discernment to priesthood directly,” he said. “It is open to men who first simply want to grow in holiness and invite God to be part of the conversation of their future.”

The Marmion House is intended to house men ages 18-25. They must currently be studying in college or working at a job. Men who enter this communal living are expected to sign and live a covenant and live in the house for a one-year period. Different from the past covenant agreement, men are now allowed to date during this time.

“The Marmion House provides a unique setting where men can be growing together with other Christian men: praying together the Liturgy of the Hours, sharing two dinners together weekly, inviting other men from campus or work to join,” Father Kociemba explained. “[The men are] involved with formation where they learn more deeply about their Catholic faith, grow in their personal prayer life and enjoy the camaraderie of their brothers as they challenge each other to grow in holiness and enjoy fraternity together.”

Steven Wielenberg lives at the Marmion House while working as a sales associate at Menard’s in Waite Park.

“The community life here … has been a great blessing,” Wielenberg said, “taking time to pray together, eat together and grow in friendship with one another.”

Part of living at Marmion House includes serving in ministry and being present in area parishes. Wielenberg, for example, whose home parish is Our Lady of the Angels in Sauk Centre, also spends time serving in the parishes of St. Alexius in West Union and St. Paul in Sauk Centre. He teaches catechism at St. John in Foley, sings in the choir and cantors at St. Mary Help of Christians in St. Augusta, and participates in a men’s Bible study at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud.

On Feb. 28, about a half dozen men gathered with Father Kociemba for a shared meal, fellowship and a discussion on the question, “Is Jesus calling you?” As is typical, the evening ended with the men praying the Liturgy of the Hours together.

“It’s just a great way to draw together men who share the same faith but who also share some of the same questions about their faith,” Father Kociemba said. “I hope it is a place of welcoming for men to continue to grow in their faith and holiness.”

Father Kociemba is encouraging more men to apply to live in the house beginning in the fall of 2017.

For more information, visit: http://vocations.stcdio.org/marmion-house and click on the “Marmion House” tab. Or search “Blessed Marmion House” on Facebook.

About Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is a multimedia reporter for The Visitor newspaper.

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