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Ordination Class of 2017

Here is a selection of members of the Ordination Class of 2017.  

Below are their responses to the question:

"People might be surprised to know..."

Justin Alarcón

Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

biked from San Francisco to Washington, DC to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities as an undergrad at UC Berkeley for a non-profit called the Ability Experience.  This experienced of being at the service of others, and sacrificing for the sake of the common good prepared the way for me to say, "yes" to my vocation.

ordinationRadley Alcantara

Archdiocese of Chicago

taught myself to cut hair so that I could cut hair for people who are homeless in hopes of helping them recognize their own dignity.

Timothy Anastos

Archdiocese of Chicago

I passed on a job opportunity with the FBI in order to enter seminary.

ordinationTrey Ange

Diocese of Lake Charles

never really got the "call" to seriously consider priesthood until much later in life.  And for a few years leading up to that final call, I thought God was saying "No" to discerning priesthood, when He was really saying "Not yet!"

ordinationJames Arriola

Archdiocese of Miami

I discovered my vocation through the Neocatechumenal Way.  Before entering the seminary I had many aspirations in life.  I wanted to be an architect, graphic designer, video editor, and many other interests.  Through this vocation, the Lord has given me the opportunity to learn all these things and more.  The Church through the Neocatechumenal Way has shown me that an adventure awaits around every corner and to be open to this mission God grants a hundred-fold to those to leave father, mother, sister brother, and his own projection of life.

ordinationNader Ata

Franciscan Friars Conventual

was not baptized in the Catholic Church and that I am a marathon runner.

ordinationMichael Baggot

Legionaries of Christ

once dreamed of taking over for Conan O'Brien as a late-night talk show host.

ordinationThomas More Barba

Order of Preachers, Province of St. Martin de Porres

the desire to be a priest is one of the longest and most consistent things I have known, and I am overjoyed I will be ordained so soon.

Dillon Barker

Diocese of Nashville

am a convert from Southern Baptist who did eighteen months in the Episcopal Church. They might also be surprised to know that it was combination of the Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharistic Adoration that led me to discern a vocation to the priesthood.

Benjamin Barr

Diocese of Pittsburgh

Left seminary studies for a period of approx. 6 years before re-entering.  I am an active outdoorsman, and enjoy hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, etc.

ordinationJohn Baumgardner

Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Studied business in college before entering seminary and have a brother who is also studying for the priesthood.

Juan Benitez

Diocese of Rochester

Wanted to be and architect, but the example of my parish priest inspired me to go to the seminary

Matthew Berrios

Paulist Fathers

People might be interested to know that I was quite the swing dance enthusiast back in college.

ordinationMichael Bissex

Diocese of Rockville Centre

used to play classical violin and piano

Nicholas Dustin Blackwell

Order of Carmelite Saint Elias Province

Wasn't raised catholic. Holy Spirit called me back in college. My vocation was cemented in me when I went to west Africa to serve in the peace corps.

ordinationJacob Boddicker

SJ, Society of Jesus (Upper Midwest Province)

Grew up a "normal" Catholic and very ignorant of my faith; I was more into Star Wars and classical music than I was into God. Learning that the Eucharist was Jesus (I was a first-year novice then!) changed my life. I still enjoy watching movies with my Jesuit brothers, and one of my great passions is teaching others about our beautiful Catholic faith so they don't have to ask, as I did a decade ago, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me?"

Michael Brennan

Canons Regular of Prémontré (Norbertines) of St. Norbert

that my youngest brother Christopher will be ordained in Spring of 2018 for the Congregation of the Holy Cross.  Although twelve years apart, our vocation stories certainly influenced one another.

Brendan Busse

Society of Jesus

I went to mass for the first time on a regular basis as a volunteer in Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles. Mass was an obligatory part of the volunteer program with the Catholic Chaplain's office. I went as a university student with a desire to serve and was moved by the community of faith I encountered among the volunteers there.

Jose Caceres

Archdiocese of New Orleans

I always felt in my life the call of God to be a priest to serve Him in the Church. I have never doubted the call of God to the priestly life.

Joseph Campbell

Diocese of Lansing

I enjoy the outdoors, I can play several instruments, I know how to ride a unicycle, and for three years I was the seminary barber and did over 300 haircuts in that time.

ordinationMichael Carter

Society of St. Edmund

Found my priestly vocation through acting and performance, and that I saw myself either as being a priest or being a rock star, and rock star didn't pan out.

Rodolfo Casals

Society of Jesus

proudly served in the US Navy for 13 years.  Joined the Jesuits because I was inspired by life of St. Ignatius.  want to do missionary work in Japan.  enjoy swimming, running, jujitsu, Japanese calligraphy.

Daniel Ciucci

Archdiocese of Denver

first wanted to dedicate my life to politics serving as a Page for the US House of Representatives. My involvement with the legislative branch allowed me to fall in love with a governmental system of representation which paved the road for me to re-receive a vocation to the priesthood from which I had tried to run. A priest is a representative of God to men and of men to God (cf. Book of Exodus).

Paul Clark

Diocese of Jefferson City

Love camping, music and a tasteful pranks.

Cole Daily

Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana

enjoy playing guitar and harmonica in a seminarian bluegrass band. I also really enjoy backpacking and canoeing.

Thomas Davenport

Order of Preachers, Province of St. Joseph (Easter Province)

earned my doctorate in Physics before joining the Dominicans, working in Theoretical Particle Physics.

ordinationAndrew Dawson

Archdiocese of Detroit

am the the grandson of an Anglican Priest and the son of a baptist minister turned Anglican priest, but I was baptized into the Catholic Church as an adult, and then ordained to the diaconate exactly 10 years to the day after my baptism. I love country music, tractors and drawing.

Dennis Di Benedetto

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

taught myself to read the Cyrillic alphabet and seriously considered becoming Ukrainian Catholic. I have a great love for the Eastern Christian Churches.

ordinationDerek Ducote

Diocese of Alexandria

choose everyday to be a priest.  Though I have been called by God and given unique gifts to serve His people and be an image of His Son, it takes commitment and surrender each day to be faithful to His call.

Nathaniel Edquist

Diocese of Gary

Enjoy biking and have a particular love of coffee that some would say borders on snobbery.

ordinationColby Elbert

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

enjoy different types of dancing. When I was in high school, some of my friends could break dance very well and I would learn a few steps and moves during lunch breaks.

Jonathan Erdman

Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter

was an Episcopal Priest for twelve years and came to feel called to come to the fullness of the Catholic Faith. The grace of God takes us many places we may not expect, but God's vision for our lives is greater than we can see.

ordinationJoseph Fessenden

Diocese of Nashville

felt the call to priesthood at a young age, but I avoided it for years. Because of that, I tried several career paths including cooking, acting, teaching, computers, marketing, and a few others looking for happiness and fulfillment. I finally found that when I embraced God's calling.

Christopher Floersh

Diocese of Knoxville

Am a former MMA fighter.

ordinationMartin Gallagher

Diocese of Buffalo

lived in northern Japan as an English teacher.  I taught at five elementary schools and one junior high school for two years, in Iwate Prefecture.

Derlis Garcia

Diocese of Brownsville

Went to a vocational retreat just to seek some silence and peace before I moved out to a bigger city for a new career and pursue marriage and a family. In three days it became evident that the Lord was calling me to leave everything behind and pursue the priesthood.

Adam Grelinger

Diocese of Wichita

have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I enjoy taking trips on my motorcycle.

Timothy Grumbach

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Spent 6 years chasing a surfing career before entering the seminary.

ordinationAlfred Omar Guerrero

Diocese of Honolulu

before entering the seminary I wanted to be Forensic Pathologist.  I was fascinated by crime scene investigation and the criminal justice field.

ordinationSamuel Hakeem

Order of Preachers, Province of St. Albert the Great

wanted to be an astronaut, and was doing what I could to make this dream a reality.  God had higher plans, and I couldn't imagine myself happier.

ordinationJustin Hamilton

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

really enjoy hiking/outdoors, playing soccer, reading Russian novels and anything written by G.K. Chesterton. I am an Eagle Scout, a big fan of the Lord of The Rings, the Batman movies, and strategy video games.

ordinationLuke Hansen

Society of Jesus, Wisconsin Province

did not meet any Jesuits until I graduated from college and joined the Jesuit Volunteer Program. The Jesuits in Santa Clara, California, inspired me with their depth of spirit, intellect and social commitment. They were not afraid of my questions. They had a confidence and peace in their faith. I immediately knew I wanted to join their company.

ordinationStephen Hart

Diocese of Little Rock

broke both of my legs at age 14 and consider it one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was spared the adolescent illusion of invulnerability, and it taught me a lot about gratitude, dependence, and joy.

Matthew Hebert

Diocese of Lafayette, LA

Accepted that I had a vocation to the priesthood while talking with a guy about the possibility of becoming a priest during halftime at an LSU football game. We both entered seminary and are being ordained this year!

Brice Higginbotham

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux

was part of the 2009 national champion powerlifting team at the University of Louisiana.

Andrew Hoffman

Diocese of Wichita

began thinking about the seminary when I began meeting young priests while teaching Totus Tuus in college. They lived joyful, fun lives, all because they were doing God's will, and I knew I wanted my life to look like that.

James Houbeck

Archdiocese of Detroit

can quote movies pretty well. This brings many laughs, but also quite a few eye rolls...

ordinationMark Kowalski

Diocese of Richmond

worked as a golf professional before entering seminary.  I still love to play golf when I can and hope that, in some way,  it finds its place in ministry in the future.

Matthias Lambrecht

Discalced Carmelite Friars (California-Arizona Province)

used to play the guitar and keys in a touring Catholic Rock Band. And, Yes, there is such thing as Catholic Rock :).

Michael Lampe

Archdiocese of St. Louis

was a Nuclear Engineer before I entered seminary.  Also, God was patient and persistent with me, so much so that he had over 8 priests ask me if I had ever considered the priesthood.

Nick Larkin

Archdiocese of Denver

received my call to the priesthood while watching 1993 WYD on TV at my grandparents house as a young boy. From that moment Saint John Paul II has been my mentor and role model of what it means to be a Christian and a priest of Jesus Christ.

John Vianney Le

Mount Angel Abbey

I was a diocesan before I join a Benedictine Community.  I was never imagine that I will be a monk someday, but I am not surprised because God knows my inmost desire.  God knows what is best for me.  To have a monastic vocation is the greatest gift from God.  My friends teased me that I will not last for a week in a monastery.  They were right, but they didn't know that all is God's grace.  Without God's grace, I will not last a single day.  They were amazed and surprised that I made this far.  And me too!

ordinationKevin Leaver

Archdiocese of Boston

was a high school Spanish teacher for the 4 years prior to entering seminary. In addition I was a part-time youth minister with a Life Teen program for 5 years.

Joseph Maalouf

Archdiocese of Miami

was interested in entering the monastery back in Lebanon at the age of eleven.

ordinationMichael Martin

Archdiocese of Louisville

I heard the call as young as 8 years old but turned away from it.  Then heard the call in High School, and again turned away. When I was in my early forty's I retired and began to look at priesthood again.  God never gives up.

Michael Metzgar

Diocese of Harrisburg

was a auto mechanic before I entered seminary, and I love the great outdoors.

Philip Micele

Archdiocese of Newark

am not from a very religious background, but have been greatly influenced by both priests and laypeople whom I've met over the years, and whose faith has inspired me to get to know the Lord.

Jayson Miller

Diocese of Fargo

Played college baseball before joining seminary. Was a FOCUS missionary for two years between college seminary and major seminary.

ordinationMark Mleziva

Diocese of Green Bay

come from a family that has been very successful in showing hogs at various fairs and livestock shows.  I myself won the Grand Champion hog at my local county fair twice, and my siblings have won as well.

ordinationJonathan Moré

Diocese of Galveston-Houston

enjoyed swing dancing as a hobby before entering seminary and have an enduring interest in urban planning and development. I also enjoy music of almost all genres.

Martin Moreno

Diocese of Tucson

People might be surprised to know that if I had not said yes to the priesthood, I might have chosen a career as a chef or as a theater actor.

ordinationDuy Vu-Trong Nguyen

Diocese of Tulsa

Growing up (around 12-13), I liked to play saying mass with my little brother and our friends. This was perhaps the very first moment I encountered the desire to become a Catholic priest. I enjoy playing sports, fixing things, and restoring things to their original condition!

John Nguyen

Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana

Was deployed to Afghanistan for a year.

Richard Nichols

Society of Jesus Maryland Province

was trained to supervise operation of an underwater nuclear power plant.    ... have been doing CrossFit(TM) for 11 years.   ... like watching old black and white movies.

ordinationJean-Marie M. Nsambu

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux

As a 9-year-old I became attracted to priesthood, and at 16, joined minor seminary. Then the desire sank, and I would later be employed as an editor for a magazine, who was also a budding attorney. To a great girlfriend, I even considered marriage. Life seemed to soar moreover, when I graduated with a Masters in international relations and diplomacy. But, a turning point would lead me to New Orleans, and here Jesus has refueled my joy for serving Him as a priest.

ordinationZani Pacanza

Archdiocese of Portland

was a TV Reporter, Writer and Producer before entering the seminary.

ordinationMichael Palmer

Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province

am carrying on the long tradition of Holy Cross priests serving as military chaplains--a legacy that has continued unbroken since Father Corby, C.S.C. served in the Civil War 155 years ago.

ordinationTimothy Sandquist

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

served with NET Ministries as my pastoral year.

ordinationAndrew Showers

Diocese of Madison

have a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and the presentation of my final project in Undergraduate was at the Chicago Office of one of the Top 10 Largest Firms in the world.

ordinationJames Smith

Missionaries the Precious Blood - Cincinnati Province

grew up practicing Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan, earning a black belt when I was 9 years old.  The trophies and medals were mostly earned because I was the only person in my age division (pee-wee) at tournaments.  The only thing I completely remember is counting in Korean.

Timothy Smith

Diocese of Sioux Falls

worked as a stand up comic in a night club for a year before I entered Seminary. I recognized I was misusing the gifts God had given me after a conversion experience on a retreat.

ordinationStephen Vaccaro

Diocese of Arlington

have 2 brothers that are also serving the Church in religious vocations: one brother is a Diocesan Priest and the other is a Redemptorist Brother.

Robert Whitney

Archdiocese of Anchorage

hated Latin in high school and then ended up studying the Classics at the University

Nepi Willemsen

Order of Carmelites, PCM Province

I actually once hung up on God in the middle of the call. I quit the Carmelites and only came back some years later. I am glad for having had the time to further discern and so to fully appreciate God's call. Ever since returning to the order, I have enjoyed the journey as a Carmelite friar preparing for the priesthood. I am excited about serving God's people as a religious and priest, teaching religion in high school.

Kevin Zubel

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer - Denver Province

play piano and trumpet and used to accompany singers and choirs at churches of different denominations throughout my hometown in South Carolina. Even though I have always been a practicing Catholic, I am grateful for what I've learned about preaching and hospitality from participating in the services of other Christian denominations and churches.

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