Attend the Ordination: Saturday, June 2 at 11 a.m., Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 1122 South Clinton St., Fort Wayne
Live Streaming will also be offered through social media channels.
The tumultuous years of high school are also when Deacon Nathan Maskal heard a calling to the priesthood. He feels that the older he became, the stronger and more direct the call was. During that time, he began to attend Mass during the week more frequently, and he became more active in both his parish and high school as a server, sacristan, lector and in various other roles.
“I also carefully considered God’s will for me, especially in regard to holiness,” he said. “Through much prayer and discernment, I realized that God’s call for me to be holy corresponded with priestly ministry.”
Although Deacon Maskal does not know the parish he will be assigned, he is confident that he is prepared.
“My seminary formation has done well to form me for priestly ministry. It has given me many, many opportunities to experience and learn different ministries, including health care, visiting residents in nursing homes and the homebound, Catholic education and prison ministry.”
His classes, this past year especially, have focused on various practicums, including practicing the administration of sacraments. He has been practicing the celebration of Mass every week, in preparation for celebrating Mass every day.
“This has been a special time for me to become more familiar with each of the parts of the Mass in a much different way than before,” he said. “I have attended daily Mass regularly since my junior year of high school, but this year especially has shown me how I always have something to learn.”
He feels that the time he has spent in parishes has been very rewarding, but he knows that more is coming. He is excited to be “in persona Christi,” or more closely imitating the person of Christ, to everyone. He credits this desire to the priests of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the examples they have set.
“I spent a year in a parish with Father Dave Voors. Father Dave was an excellent example to me of compassion and faithfulness,” said Deacon Maskal. “He reminded me of the importance of being solidly rooted in my prayer life and allowing Jesus’ example to guide all my decisions.”
Growing up, there were also three priests who inspired Deacon Maskal at his home parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Fort Wayne.
“Msgr. Ed Hession, founding pastor of St. Charles, had a commitment and fervor that were outstanding to witness. He had a love and strength of the faith. He was never afraid to preach the truth, and people firmly knew that he deeply loved and cared for them.”
Deacon Maskal said that Msgr. Hession asked him if he would ever want to be a priest. Ironically, he answered “no.”
Msgr. Hession very much wanted many vocations to come from the St. Charles Parish, and continually asked the question, he remembered.
Msgr. John Suelzer, who followed Msgr. Hession as pastor of St. Charles, provided the firm foundation of Deacon Maskal’s childhood faith. Msgr. Suelzer’s deep love of the liturgy was ultimately the root of Deacon Maskal’s vocation. He felt that Msgr. Suelzer was a continual supporter and encourager.
“Msgr. Suelzer would constantly point out ways in our lives that still needed conversion. He offered practical ways to follow Christ, and especially stressed in the Golden Rule — encouraging us to have a Christ-like attitude to everyone we meet,” he said. “Msgr. Suelzer would always return to prayer as something that guides and directs our lives.”
He fondly remembers Msgr. Suelzer concluding his homilies with the phrase, “May we continue to pray.” Deacon Maskal now uses this phrase in his own homilies as well.
Another priest he credits for having an impact on his faith is Msgr. Michael Heintz, who was assigned to St. Charles as an associate pastor when Deacon Maskal was a young boy. He has been an encouraging presence for Deacon Maskal at the seminary, and a priest he has always looked up to.
“I have had the privilege of having Msgr. Heintz as one of my professors and formators at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary for the past two years,” he said. “He has also provided lots of practical advice for sacramental ministry and pastoral work.”
Deacon Maskal will be ordained into the priesthood by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Saturday, June 2, at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. He encourages young men to think about the priesthood, learn about all the different aspects of priestly ministry from their parish priests and to “carefully discern God’s will in prayer.”
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