“Hello WCU, From Rome”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Growing up in Quincy, I knew of the Western Catholic Union through its support of the Great River Teens Encounter Christ retreat program, but, beyond that, I knew little of the WCU. It was not until His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, sent me on his behalf to the 57th Quadrennial National Convention nearly two years ago that I learned about the purpose and history of the WCU. I left the convention thoroughly impressed and wondering how it was that I could have, until then, known so little about the charitable activities of the WCU.
As you know, I am now writing to you as the newly appointed National Spiritual Director for the Western Catholic Union. I am grateful to Mr. Steve Looten and to the WCU Board for the kind invitation and to Bishop Paprocki for his permission to serve you in this capacity.
I was born in Quincy on March 26, 1978 and grew up in St. John the Baptist and All Saints Parishes and attended St. John the Baptist Grade School, Quincy Senior High School, and graduated from Quincy University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Throughout high school and college, I worked at KB Toys and the Quincy Herald-Whig and was very much involved in my parish and with the Great River TEC program. After the conclusion of my college studies, I went to the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago to study and prepare for the priesthood. His Excellency George J. Lucas, now Archbishop of Omaha, ordained me to the priesthood on May 28, 2005.
From July 2005 until September 2009, I served as the Parochial Vicar of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham, Illinois, where I also taught in the parish high school and was active with the soccer, track, and wrestling teams, serving as their assistant coach. From September 2009 until January 2011, I served as Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Virden, Illinois and of St. Patrick Parish in Girard, Illinois; in July 2010, I also became Pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Auburn, Illinois, where I also served until January 2011. From January 2011 until July 2013, I served as Priest Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop and Associate Director of the Office for Vocations. In July 2013, Bishop Paprocki appointed me to studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome to obtain a Licentiate in Canon Law. These studies will continue for two more years.
I look forward to assisting you in the months and years ahead in whatever way I may, particularly through the various ‘new media’. The WCU will retweet many of the items I tweet on Twitter (@daren_j_zehnle) and will also share some of the things I write on my blog, Servant and Steward (http://dzehnle.blogspot.com). Through both of these media, I attempt to share information you may not find elsewhere and also to offer my thoughts about faith and what is happening in my daily life. From time to time, I will also write specifically for the WCU. If there are topics about which you would like me to write, please let me know. Please also know of my prayers for you and your families; I ask you to remember me in your prayers.
Peace and Joy,
Reverend Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S.