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Andrew Dinners launched in archdiocese

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

SIDNEY DEANERY — There was plenty of food and fellowship at a dinner April 22, but the conversation was about the priesthood.

More than 30 young men from the northern part of the archdiocese attended an Andrew Dinner at Holy Angels Parish in Sidney, the first such event in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The event enabled the men to discuss a possible call the priesthood in a relaxed, informal setting.

Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, several priests and a seminarian joined 33 young men who have some interest in the priesthood at the dinner.

“They all seemed pretty excited,” said Father Kyle Schnippel, the archdiocesan director of vocations. “There are a few guys that were there that I’m talking with [about the priesthood] now.”

The event is named after St. Andrew, who, according to the Gospel of John, brought his brother, Peter, to meet Jesus. Archbishop Schnurr began the dinners in Duluth, Minn. when he was that diocese’s bishop, and wanted to start the events here.

The evening included a social time, dinner and a presentation by Dan Hess, a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West. Archbishop Schnurr and Father Schnippel also spoke.

It was very informative more than anything else,” said Matthew Merkel, 19, a student at Sinclair Community College. “It was very relaxed, very low pressure. They were just talking about the joys and wonders of being [at the seminary].”

Merkel said he intends to transfer to Franciscan University in Steubenville, and plans on becoming a teacher and youth minister.

Hess, who just finished his internship year at St. Albert the Great Parish in Kettering, said the event gave him an opportunity to share own experiences with the young men.

“My role at the dinner was to present a little bit of my story of why I entered the seminary and then some of the universals of the process of exploring a possible call to the priesthood,” said Hess. “It was very relaxed. I thought it was such a unique opportunity to have a little bit of time just to talk about honest questions and [have] honest conversations about what the process was like and what seminary life is like.”

The informal setting allows for personal interaction and is not as overwhelming as a lecture at a seminary may be.

“It was a comfortable environment to look at seminary life and a call to the priesthood,” Hess said. “Part of the nature of the Andrew Dinner is you are sitting around a table and able to have a personal discussion.”

Father Daniel Schmitmeyer, pastor of Holy Angels Parish, was also pleased with the event. His parish was asked to host it.

“I think it {appealed} to young men who are thinking about the priesthood but would have been intimidated to drive to Cincinnati to the seminary,” Father Schmitmeyer said. “For me it helped to renew my own priesthood to see so many young men who are thinking about the priesthood.”

Four additional Andrew Dinners will be held in the fall at parishes throughout the archdiocese.

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