All Roads Lead to Him
For a brief few minutes the three men gathered in front of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis to each receive $1000 checks as winners of the G. A. Wiewel Vocation Scholarships from the Western Catholic Union.
Seldom have a group of young men been less focused on money.
Their paths to the Seminary differ. Since he was very young Michael Joseph Cross has felt the calling to be a priest. Joseph Jaskierny has been considering the priesthood for eight years, but Ryan Browning realized his call only three years ago.
Their routes to the Seminary may vary, but they’ve all arrived.
All roads lead to Him.
“I believe for a long time our Lord was calling me, but I wasn’t listening,” Ryan Browning said. “Praise God He is patient.”
Joseph Jaskierny was considering the priesthood, but others seemed to sense his future before him. On two notable occasions he had people ask him “Why aren’t you a priest?” Others saw it in him, and after much thought Joseph contacted a priest, and he “gave me the final push of encouragement.”
That’s when the journey began, and it will take years of study.
“There is a lot of information to process among the various classes I am taking at one time,” Joseph said. “While I try to retain as much as possible, the sheer amount of information makes the task nearly impossible. Therefore, I try to take very good notes as well as remember where I can look up the information I am taught in class in case I need to reference it at a later date.”
The hours are long. The lifestyle is unselfish. The lessons are life-changing. Ryan Browning remembers learning of the Lectio Divina, “Lectio Divina literally means sacred reading,” he says. “It means picking up the Bible and prayerfully reading and meditating upon a verse or verses. A good way to do it is to read and meditate upon the daily readings of the Mass the night before.”
WCU’s G.A. Wiewel Vocation Scholarship is awarded to five students each year. Other winners in 2008 include Daniel Queathem of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis and Christopher Fechtel of Conception Abbey in Conception, MO.
According to the “National Catholic Reporter” in Kansas City the Catholic population in the United States is growing. In 1979 there were 50 million Catholics. That number grew to 59 million in 1999 and 64.4 million today.
However, the number of diocesan priests has dropped from about 35,000 in 1965 to about 28,000 today. Overall, including religious order priests, the numbers are down from about 58,000 in 1965 to about 42,000 today.
Their value in our communities is immeasurable. Their need is great.
“American society is straying very far from its Christian roots,” Joseph Jaskierny said. “To be a Christian has always been counter-cultural, but in a modern society it is even more so. Being a seminarian and authentically living my Catholic faith illustrates to the world that there are things in life more important than what secular society values.”
Ryan Browning looks forward to serving Him. “The only way that I can impact society is to empty myself to be a vessel through which Jesus Christ can work to impact people,” he says. “A priest strengthens and teaches the faithful in the parish who in turn impact society in positive ways when they live their faith to the fullest. It requires of a priest an example of faithfulness to the Church and a self-emptying to become even more God’s instrument.”