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Seminary producing priests for other dioceses

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From left, Deacons John Ettinger, Matthew Frisbee and Craig McHenry all studied at The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. They will be ordained this summer for other dioceses in Ohio. (CT Staff and Courtesy Photos)

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph

While it serves as the education center for seminarians of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary forms priests for other dioceses too.

Three of the five members of the seminary’s class of 2014 will serve somewhere other than the Archdicoese of Cincinnati.

While Deacons James Riehle and Brian Phelps will be ordained May 17 to serve the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Deacons John S. Ettinger and Craig A. McHenry will be ordained June 21 in the Diocese of Youngstown. Deacon Matthew C. Frisbee will be ordained May 31 for the Diocese of Toledo.

Another seminary alum, Father Boniface-Blanchard Twaibu was ordained Jan. 4  for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Each of the three still awaiting ordination had positive words concerning their seminary experience in this archdiocese.

Deacon Frisbee, 27, may not be a native son, but he is a grandson of the archdiocese. His mother’s parents were Cincinnati natives, hailing from the west side of the city.

He noted that he has enjoyed visiting the beautiful churches located all throughout the archdiocese.

“I don’t think I’ve gotten out of the seminary as much as I could but the seminary has been a great place preparing for the priesthood with the opportunities for prayer and for studies,” Deacon Frisbee said. “I’d say I’ve been able to get out and see some of the different churches. Cincinnati in general is a fairly Catholic city.”

Deacon Ettinger had reservations about being assigned to do his formation at Mount St. Mary’s of the West, but as ordination nears he is now grateful to his bishop for choosing it.

“I didn’t know what to think of the seminary in Cincinnati before I started,” Deacon Ettinger said. “I didn’t know what to expect. One of the first things I realized is that the philosophy program is very good… I’m glad that my bishop chose Mount St. Mary’s.”

Deacon McHenry, 43, mentioned his fellow seminarians as a positive part of his time at the seminary.

“I got to know guys who are excited about the Lord and serving the people of God,” Deacon McHenry said. “I find it interesting to meet guys from different walks life and hearing about their vocation stories. It’s also enjoyable to see the gifts that God has given to others. Some guys have great voices and others can explain difficult concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Seminary is an interesting place because we have the chance to learn from and grow with other guys who are called by God, but seem so different from ourselves. Not only do we learn about others and how God has used them, but we learn about ourselves as well.”

All three of the seminarians from outside the archdiocese expressed their gratitude to Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, who has made vocations a priority from the outset of his episcopacy. When most of this class arrived at the seminary, the archdiocese was led by now Archbishop Emeritus Daniel P. Pilarcyzk. A change in diocesan leadership brings some uncertainty to the life of a seminarian, but Deacon Ettinger said then-Coadjutor Bishop Schnurr immediately put him at ease.

“After being here like a year and a half, there was an announcement that (now-Archbishop) Schnurr would be the coadjutor,” he said. “What I thought was most interesting is on the day that it was announced, he made a point to spend time at the seminary. That was a great sign.”

This story originally appeared in the May 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph. 

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