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Young men hear from coadjutor archbishop, others about the priesthood

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

By David Eck

ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY — The young men enjoying dinner at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Oct. 28 talked of the usual things high school boys discuss: school, grades and the high school football playoffs.

But these young men also spoke of the seminary and their possible call to the priesthood at the third Andrew Dinner held this fall in the Cincinnati archdiocese. The dinners allow men, mostly juniors and seniors in high school, to learn more about the priesthood.

Eighteen students from the west side of Cincinnati attended the dinner. They were joined by several priests and Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr.

The evening included a social time, dinner, a presentation and questions and answers. It ended with the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in the church.

“I thought it was good,” said Father Kyle Schnippel, director of the archdiocesan Vocations Office. “The priests that were there were engaged and certainly brought a good group of young men. They seemed to be on track with what a vocation to the priesthood might entail for them.”

A new video played for the young men featured college seminarians from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati discussing their experiences and life in the seminary.

“One of the things that we wanted to do to help make it real for young people is to have our seminarians in the video,” Father Schnippel said. “These are the guys who are walking the walk.”

Father Shawn Landenwitch, who was ordained last May, told the group he felt restless in his life and went to the seminary to discern a call to the priesthood. He said the possibility of a calling is worth investigating.

“This is what the Lord has called me to do,” Father Landenwitch said. “I thank God that He called me.”

Seminarian Matthew Robben shared his vocation story, describing how he was angry at God and stopped going to church after his fiancée was killed. He talked of how he was eventually reintroduced to the sacraments and began to see signs of a calling. He told the men to speak to a priest if they sense a possible call.

“Remain faithful to prayer,” Robben said. “There’s never a time when prayer cannot be introduced into your life.”

If the young men sense that God is calling them, Archbishop Schnurr said, they should go to the seminary and find out. God gives everyone a vocation — be it the priesthood or religious life, marriage or celibate single life — and equips the person for that vocation.

God also expects us to use the gifts He gave each of us, even in the priesthood.

“God gives every individual particular gifts and intends for those gifts to be used,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “It would be a pretty boring church if every priest was identical.”

Michael Mazzei, a senior at St. Xavier High School, is considering enrolling in the college seminary. He has had a long-term interest in the priesthood. The dinner was another step in investigating a call.

“It was nice to have dinner with others who are also interested,” he said. “It was an enlightening experience to hear from Father Schnippel, the archbishop and others who spoke.”

Other Andrew Dinners were held earlier in October at Holy Redeemer Parish in New Bremen and St. Anthony in Dayton. The first event was in April at Holy Angels Parish in Sidney. A dinner is also planned for later this month at St. Andrew Parish in Milford.

More than 100 young men have attended the dinners. Pastors were encouraged to invite men they think may have an interest in the seminary.

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 bishop there and wanted to continue the events here.

“Certainly it’s going to become a regular program,” Father Schnippel said. “We’ll definitely be doing it in the future.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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