Join the Novena and Meet our 9 new Archdiocesan Priest
On May 18, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will celebrate the historic ordination of nine men to the priesthood! Deacons Alex Biroymumeisho, Mark Bredestege, Zachary Cecil, Christian Cone-Lombarte, Ambrose Dobroszi, Andrew Hess, Elias Mwesigye, Jeffrey Stegbauer, and Jedidiah Tritle have spent many years studying, discerning, and serving in preparation for this momentous day where they receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This will be the largest ordination class in more than 40 years!
Day 9: Meet and Pray for Jedidiah Tritle, St. Raphael & St. Joseph, Springfield, OH
The son of a professional couple, Deacon Tritle has a younger, married brother who is an infantry officer in the Army and a sister who is engaged to be married. His home parish is St. Raphael-St. Joseph in Springfield.
Deacon Tritle was home-schooled up through eighth grade; attended Springfield Catholic Central for eighth, ninth and part of 10th grade. He finished at Springfield North High School; and attended Wright State for two years before transferring to college seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities. He attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, graduating with a Master of Arts in theology and a Master of Divinity.
“Pope Benedict XVI’s book-series on the Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church was highly influential in piquing my interest about Catholicism when I was in college, and they inspired me to learn more about the early Church and the many traditions we have inherited,” he said. “I was further inspired by Pope Benedict’s emphasis on reverence and beauty in the sacred liturgy, and his clarity of thought and teaching.
“If I had to pick one person whose priesthood has inspired me and continues to inspire me, I would have to go with Pope Benedict XVI.” Deacon Tritle came to his vocation as he matured.
“When I was at Wright State, I had every intention of finishing college and getting married at some point. I started praying about my vocation, and was quite surprised to receive an invitation to the priesthood rather than to marriage.”
Deacon Tritle had no early inklings he would end up in the seminary, and the priesthood “wasn’t even something that I was considering,” he admitted. “I spent the next several months struggling with this perceived call until I realized that one cannot adequately discern the priesthood outside of seminary. So, after my second year at Wright State, I transferred to a college seminary to begin the formal discernment process.”
Day 8: Meet and Pray for Jeff Stegbauer, St. Susanna, Mason, OH
A member of St. Susanna Parish in Mason, Deacon Jeffery Stegbauer is the son of Randall and Martha Stegbauer.
He has a married brother, Greg (Caroline) and brothers, Steven and Ben.
Looking to May 18 ordination in St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, he attended Mason Public Schools; Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University, earning a degree in Catholic studies; and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.
“I was blessed to have a great uncle who was a priest – Father Tom Diehl, SJ. Growing up with him around the family helped make the priesthood a familiar possibility rather than something foreign,” he said.
“This example of my great uncle, the faith of my grandparents and parents, and the persistent nudging in prayer by God opened me up to consider the priesthood. While I never had any extraordinary revelations, I knew that God was leading me to enter college seminary in order to properly discern if God was calling me to be one of His priests,” he said.
Another priest, the late Father Dan Schuh, also inspired Deacon Stegbauer.
Shortly after being named pastor, while I was in high school, Father Schuh was diagnosed with ALS. Despite his terrible suffering that led to his death, he never lost joy.” “He was joyful because he was given a unique opportunity to love his parishioners by uniting his suffering with Jesus Christ on the cross,” Deacon Stegbauer said.
“He was able to lay down his life for the sake of their salvation. This left a large impression on me, and I desired to answer this calling to lay down my life so that others may come to know and love Jesus Christ.”
To those discerning a vocation, Deacon Stegbauer says, “Pray.”
“Pray, talk to a priest, and trust in God. Young people today, myself included, often desire certainty before making a decision. This desire for certainty can delay our vocations,” he said. “If you believe that God may be calling you to the priesthood, then I encourage you to pursue it. Don’t wait. The seminary is the best place to discern whether God is calling you to the priesthood.”
Day 7: Meet and Pray for Elias Mwesigye, St. John Neumann, Fairfield, OH
A former medical social worker, Deacon Mwesigye is the son of the late Joseph and Rose Mary Mwesigye. His brother, Deogratias, lives in Uganda.
His home parish here is St John Neumann. His schooling includes; St. Lawrence- Nyamitanga, Mbarara (grade school), St. John Fisher- Ibanda (secondary); Apostles of Jesus Seminary, Bukinda-Kabale (high school); St. Thomas Aquinas National Seminary, Katigondo, Uganda (philosophy); St. Mary’s National Seminary-Ggaba-Uganda (beginning theology); Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Nairobi, Kenya (theology); and te Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, where he will earn a Master of Divinity.
Deacon Mwesigye was born in Uganda, East Africa, and came to the United States to join the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “Although I never traveled with any blood family member, I have been loved by many people, and today I am proud to say that I have mothers and fathers without forgetting ‘brothers and sisters from another mother’ here in Cincinnati.”
“I think God brought me to the right place, where he needed me to be,” he said.
Deacon Mwesigye’s late mother always took him to Mass, and he said “eventually I admired the priests at my parish and decided to study hard and be like them. (My mother) played a big role.”
“Sometimes you think about the training duration and get discouraged,” he said. “Some people may also discourage you, but the choice is yours. Pray over it and make a decision.”
“Time is just numbers and it’s never late,” he said.
An avid soccer player and professional referee, Deacon Mwesigye said he has been inspired by lay people in the church. “I have been inspired by the parishioners, their love and dedication to their faith despite the challenges we live in,” he said.
“Those who love their faith were truly committed and made me more dedicated to be at their service when I am ordained.” “People need priests,” he said.
“Waking up every day and knowing that there is someone praying for me,” he said inspires him. “I know our people love their priests and pray for us every day and that gives me joy that I am not alone in this journey to the Lord.”
Day 6: Meet and Pray for Andrew Hess, Sacred Heart, St. Paris, OH
The son of Wayne and Kimberly Hess, farmers, Deacon Hess was home-schooled until college. He comes from a large family: Michael (Amber) Hess, Katie (Jay) Miller, Laura (Bryan) Liming, Natalie (Brett) Kizer, Mary (Damon) Smith, Patrick (Sydney) Hess, Elizabeth Hess, Anthony Hess, John Paul Hess.
Deacon Hess attended Marian University and Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, Indianapolis, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Catholic studies.
Deacon Hess said he learned a great deal in his internship year, “about the life of the parish priest. I learned the importance of being authentic and genuine in living out this vocation. I learned the reality that some days will be long and exhausting.”
“I learned that none of us can live this life in a vacuum, and we must be true brothers to our fellow priests; I learned the importance of being a father and a teacher to the people of God; and I learned that – with all the challenges and demands of this life – because of the joy that comes from serving the Lord as His priest,” he said. “To be called to the priesthood is a priceless gift.”
While he heard God’s call relatively early in life, he said discerning a vocation requires confidence and patience. “While we were still yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8), and so we must avoid the temptation to think ‘I can’t serve the Lord because I’m not good enough.’ He knows the clay He is forming, and if we are confident in Him and willing to turn our lives over to Him, we will see in time that He can do amazing things, things that seemed impossible when we first started out,” he said.
“The priest will not understand the greatness of his office until he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love,” Hess said, quoting St. John Vianney about the joy of the priesthood.
“I think the mystery of this whole endeavor will be its own joy – to witness the work that God carries out in the lives of His people day in and day out and the fact that He has allowed me to work alongside Him in this way and wonder: ‘Lord, why me?’ The only answer can be because of His love,” he said.
Day 5: Meet and Pray for Ambrose Dobrozsi, St. Gertrude, Madeira, OH
After a brief career in construction, working as a University of Dayton student-researcher and teaching history at Royalmont Academy, the son of Douglas and Beth Dobrozsi will be ordained May 18. He is a St. Gertrude parishioner.
Home-schooled through high school, Deacon Dobrozsi earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northeast Catholic College and a Master of Arts in theology from the University of Dayton.
Deacon Dobrozsi credits his parents, teachers and many others with helping him through the vocation journey, but said two priests were especially helpful is helping him discern his vocation.
“Two priests, in particular, were especially influential. Father Matthew van Smoorenburg, LC, who led a number of retreats I attended in high school, encouraged me to pursue virtue and to pray hard about my vocation. Father Shawn Landenwich met me after I had broken up with my last girlfriend, and helped me get back on the path to the priesthood.”
His vocation has been an almost life-long journey: “I first thought about the priesthood when I was very young, six or seven,” he said, “and the idea stuck in my head as I grew older. I considered that the plan for my life when I was in high school.”
“Late in high school, and in college, though,” he said, “I dated some girls and tried to find another path in life. When those fell through, and when I realized my other plans weren’t making me happy, I returned to the grace God had offered me and I entered seminary.”
“Don’t be afraid,” he said to those puzzling over their vocation. “You are not facing an endless set of choices for what to do with your life, with God hoping you’ll pick the right option out of a million. He has put you in a definite place, and He loves you.
“Anything that you do with His help will be pleasing to Him. So be bold! The only wrong choice is to stay in indecision out of fear,’ he said.
Day 4: Meet and Pray for Christian Cone-Lombarte, Emmanuel, Dayton, OH
The son of Douglas and Maria Cone and Eva Cone-Lombarte, Deacon Cone-Lombarte is a member of Emmanuel Parish in Dayton.
He attended Air Force schools through grade school, finished high school in Beavercreek, and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Wright State. He will receive a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.
Deacon Cone-Lombarte is approaching ordination with mixed emotions, “I mostly just feel ready. And not ready. Not in the same way and at the same time, of course. I try not to look too far ahead, though, given that I don’t even know where I’m going next,” he said.
An avid hiker and bridge player – and he bristles at those who call bridge an old person’s pastime – Deacon Cone-Lombarte found his internship helpful. “It has hopefully helped me to become a man of prayer amidst the considerable activity involved in parish life.”
To those who want to serve God, he advises the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá: “Leave behind false idealisms, fantasies, and what I usually call mystical wishful thinking: if only I hadn’t married; if only I had a different job or qualification; if only I were in better health; if only I were younger; if only I were older. Instead, turn to the most material and immediate reality, which is where our Lord is.”
“Serving God happens here and now,” he said. “whatever our current situation might be, by doing the work in front of us well, and, above all, with love.”
When discerning a vocation, Deacon Cone-Lombarte said, “Work first at being open to any direction God may lead you (i.e. to be able to say honestly: ‘If God wants me to do this, I’ll do it, if that, I’ll do it).”
“Don’t leave any doors closed, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched they might seem. And then just pray for direction and do the work in front of you in the meanwhile. With that, the‘hard work’ of discernment is done. Then it’s mostly just waiting, and God doesn’t seem to leave a seriously open person hanging for long.”
Day 3: Meet and Pray for Zach Cecil, St. Mary, Piqua, OH
Deacon Cecil is the son of Daren and Angie Cecil and a member of St. Mary Parish in Piqua. He has two married sisters, Maria (Bryan) Wysong, and Kate (Kevin) Roberts.
He attended Piqua Catholic, Lehman Catholic High School; Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, with a Catholic studies major, and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, where he will earn a Master of Divinity and master’s in biblical studies.
Deacon Cecil, who first entertained becoming a priest when he was in second grade, said time flies. “I cannot believe that nine years have passed since I first entered the seminary. Throughout this time, my desire to become a priest and to serve the people of God has continued to grow. As I near the end of my time in formation, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for giving me the grace and guidance, and to all those many people who have formed, supported, and encouraged me.”
“If you are discerning a vocation, do not be afraid,” he said of those who wonder if they have a religious vocation. “Take the leap. Have trust in God and know of His power to do great things in our life.”
“We can often get preoccupied with what we want or what we don’t have,” he said, “but, honestly, God wants what is best. The only thing we need to do is give our hearts to Him and let Him take the lead.”
An avid sports fan, Deacon Cecil is looking forward to saying Mass and administering the sacraments. “I am very excited about being able to celebrate Mass and hear confession,” he said, “because they are two of the most powerful moments of Christ’s tangible love in our lives, and I am excited to be an instrument of that grace.”
Echoing the sentiments of most of his classmates, Deacon Cecil said he will miss belonging to the seminary community. “The thing that I value the most from seminary is my prayer life. It has truly been a blessing to have been able to take the time to learn to pray throughout these nine years,” he said.
Day 2: Meet and Pray for Mark Bredestege, St. Joseph, North Bend, OH
Deacon Bredestege’s father is retired and mother is ‘lightly’ retired. He has four brothers.
His home parish is St. Joseph, North Bend. He attended St. Bernard in Taylor’s Creek, St. Aloysius on the Ohio, Elder High School, and the University of Dayton, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.
Deacon Bredestege says growing up in a Catholic family and being surrounded by Catholic influences and friends helped him find his way to his upcoming May 18 ordination.
“God calls. We just need to listen,” he said. “I share a story with people. I met with Father Kyle Schnippel on a Saturday morning. We were the only two people who knew about the meeting. After the meeting, I was still hesitant and did not really want to fill out the application I just received,” he said. “That afternoon, I served Mass and a missionary sister was there for her appeal. After Mass she asked me ‘Are you a seminarian?’ I said ‘no.’ She then looked at me, and said, ‘I think you would make a great priest. You should consider it.’”
Realizing his vocation has not come without some concern. “It is honestly scary,” Deacon Bredestege said, “but trust in God and a strong prayer life help overcome the fears and anxieties. The seminary can only prepare you for so much, but every parish and every parishioner is unique,” he said.
“There is not a manual for saving souls. As a priest, we expect to do our best with our own understanding.”
Deacon Bredestage’s internship in Adams County, “was a very enlightening experience. It was different from how I had grown up. It is rural, simple living, and less than two percent Catholic.” “With a lot of free time, though, I had found weaknesses within my own prayer life and had many trivial concerns that in the end did not matter,” he said. “I felt I had grown to know and understand the calling for a priest by shoring up a good prayerful foundation and understanding the importance of the priest as spiritual father to all the people in his parish.”
Day 1: Meet and Pray for Alex Biryomumeisho, St. John Neumann, Fairfield, OH
Deacon Biryomumeisho will be ordained in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati May 18.
He is the son of Ugandan farmers. His father is 77, and his mother is 74. He has three brothers and four sisters, all married and living in Uganda.
His parish in Uganda is Kishanje Parish. His home parish here is St. John Neumann.
He received his education in Uganda at Hakahumiro Primary School, Lake Bunyonyi Secondary School, and St. Paul’s Seminary. He attended Katigondo National Major Seminary, Uganda, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and then studied theology for two years at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, where he earned a Master of Arts in sustainable peace and conflict management. He has completed his priestly studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, where he expects to earn a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology.
Deacon Biryomumeisho said his journey to ordination, “has been a long journey. It is now 13 years since I entered high school seminary in 2004, in Uganda.”
“As I get close to ordination, I am very grateful to God for having helped me this far; without His guidance and help, there is no way I was going to make it,” he said. “I am also very excited that soon I will be ordained a priest and start celebrating Mass; it will be a great honor for me to serve Christ and His Church as a priest.
“I am going to begin my ministry as a priest at a time when priesthood has been tainted by scandals,” Deacon Biryomumeisho said. “I have a duty and obligation to strive for holiness and restore the image of the priesthood, and the Catholic Church.”
During his internship, Deacon Biryomumeisho had chance to visit and bring holy Communion to the sick and home bound parishioners. “This experience helped me to appreciate how the presence of a minister can be helpful to the sick, especially when sacraments are offered, and also how the sick feels that he/she is a member of the Church that cares about his/her salvation,” he said. “I look forward to caring for the sick and homebound in my ministry.”