Six men to be ordained as transitional deacons
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will ordain six men to the transitional diaconate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End.
They are Michael Benz, Raymond Buehler, John Nickolai, Charles Samson and Christopher Seiler, to be ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Brother Pio Enudu, to be ordained for the Society of Our Mother of Peace. Samson and Seiler are students at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The other men attend Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury.
Transitional deacons are seminarians in their last year of preparation for ordination to the priesthood. A transitional deacon may baptize, distribute Communion, witness marriages and lead rites for Christian burial.
The Kenrick-Glennon seminarians are expected to complete their master of divinity degree by spring 2013 from Kenrick School of Theology. Each is also working toward completion his master of arts in theology. Samson and Seiler are expected to complete bachelor's degrees in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University this June. Samson will begin working toward a licentiate in scriptural studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and Seiler will begin working toward a licentiate in sacred theology at Pontifical Lateran University, both in Rome.
In addition, five other Kenrick-Glennon seminarians will be ordained this spring to the transitional diaconate for other dioceses. They are Nathan Haverland, Daniel Schmitz and Quentin Schmitz, for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., and Thomas Grafsgaard and Corey Nelson, for the Diocese of Bismarck, N.D.
Benz, 47, is the son of Donald and Elizabeth Benz of St. Ann. His home parish is Holy Trinity in St. Ann. A graduate of Mercy High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a master's degree in English from The Ohio State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. He served supervised ministry at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Incarnate Word, St. Raphael and St. Francis of Assisi (Oakville) parishes.
Explaining he first felt a call to the priesthood as a young boy, Benz said, "As I grew older, I resisted that calling and tried to make my own decisions about my path in life. Not all of my decisions were good, but God was still walking with me through them, bringing good friends and co-workers in my life ... until I finally was able to cooperate with the grace to let go of the resistances. Once I made the decision to look into entering the seminary, it wasn't long before I was in the seminary. ... The seminary and my continuing journey have helped me understand that the only vocation worth living is the one that God wills for me."
Buehler, 31, is the son of Ray and Jane Buehler of Cincinnati. His home parish is CurÃ© of Ars in Shrewsbury. A graduate of
DeSmet Jesuit High School in Creve Coeur, he earned a bachelor's degree in management systems from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University for Science and Technology) and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
He has served supervised ministry at St. John the Baptist, Assumption and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne parishes, St. John Nepomuk Chapel and St. John Vianney High School.
"I cannot point to one person or incident in my life" that inspired a vocation, Buehler said. "God progressively revealed His plan for me. The Holy Spirit tugged doggedly at my heart through the joyful Catholic witness of some close family and friends, the fidelity of the priests, religious and faithful I worked with in the Catholic Youth Apostolate, the hunger I saw in the teens I served for the sacraments and the joyful self-sacrificial love of some priests I am privileged to call friends. ... By the grace of God, I can think of no greater adventure in life."
Nickolai, 34, is the son of Tom and Bebe Nickolai of west St. Louis County. His home parish is Incarnate Word in Chesterfield. A graduate of St. Louis Priory School, he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Washington University and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
He served his supervised ministry at St. Joseph (Imperial), St. David and St. Luke parishes and the Newman Center at Washington University.
Nickolai called Kenrick-Glennon Seminary "a joyful place." He said, "I didn't expect to laugh so much. It has been a great gift to be placed on the hands of wise and holy priests here ... I count myself blessed to have had so many good examples in my life, leading me here -- my parents, who planted and guarded the seeds of faith; the priests and nuns at St. Elizabeth of Hungary; the monks of the St. Louis Abbey; the priests and campus ministers at Washington University's Newman Center. Truly, God has been good to me."
Samson, 25, is the son of Dr. Willis and Suzanne Samson of west St. Louis County. His home parish is St. Clement of Rome in Des Peres. A graduate of St. Louis University High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College. He served supervised ministry at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
"I heard the call to the priesthood when I was in second grade. The sacraments, thanks to my mother, were a part of my daily life, and I always eagerly sought out the opportunity to serve Mass," Samson said. "One day after Mass had ended, I cleared the altar and went to the back room to remove my white servers' alb ... I remember looking up at the rack of albs, and noticed how similar they were to the one the priest wears. Immediately I thought of the young priest who trained me to serve, and how I, wearing this alb, looked 'just like Father.' At that moment, a quiet yet clear, simple yet certain, desire came into my heart -- 'I want to be a priest, just like Father.' ... Since then, my resolve has not wavered, and I have grown in my knowledge of the priesthood and in my love of God's will for me in my life."
Seiler, 24, is the son of John and Reine Seiler of Bridgeton. His home parish is Holy Spirit in Maryland Heights. A graduate of DeSmet Jesuit High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College. He served his supervised ministry at St. Joan of Arc Parish.
Seiler said he first thought about the priesthood as a seventh-grader at St. Blaise School in Maryland Heights, when he met Father Brian Fischer, then an acolyte, at his parish. "He was the first seminarian I had ever met, and he invited me to go on Kenrick-Glennon Days. Meeting many young seminarians and men my age who were thinking about the priesthood made it seem like something I could do. As I moved into high school I continued to grow in my faith, especially through the Life Teen program at Incarnate Word Parish ... There I was introduced to eucharistic adoration and frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Looking back I can see that it was these sacramental encounters with Christ that made it possible for me to follow the Lord's call." After briefly attending Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., he entered Cardinal Glennon College and found "great peace and joy."
Br. Pio Enudu
Brother Enudu, 36, is the son of Simon and Patricia Enudu of Enugu, Nigeria. His home parish is Christ the King in Enugu. He earned bachelor of arts and philosophy degrees from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and is a member of the Society of Our Mother of Peace, which has several foundations, including one in Nigeria and one in High Ridge. His supervised ministry has been door-to-door evangelization.
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