June 9, 2010 // Local

Diocesan graces flow from the Year for Priests

By Karen Clifford

The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God’s free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord’s call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ’s call. — Pope Benedict XVI

MISHAWAKA — As the Year for Priests concludes June 19, many within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have benefitted from the graces that have flowed from this year’s activities. Clergy throughout the diocese have received spiritual bouquets in the forms of Mass intentions, the rosary, general prayers, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Holy Hours and fasting and offerings by parishioners that have been recorded on the diocesan Vocation Office Web page.

Father Daniel Scheidt, pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka, attests to the power of prayers for those in the priesthood. “I always tell people that their prayers are, so to speak, the ‘spiritual oxygen’ that my brother priests and I breathe. That is to say, we rely in the most necessary and vital way on the prayers, sacrifices, and friendship of those we serve. The Year for Priests has truly been a providential ‘breath of fresh air’ for the renewal of priests in their ministry and the Church in her witness of faith to the world.”

Another grace to come from the Year for Priests is the young men who are discerning the priesthood as a vocation. Within Queen of Peace Parish, parishioner Tom Scheibelhut, a 2003 graduate of Mishawaka High School, explains his faith journey as he enters seminary this fall.

“My first experience of possibly being called by our Lord to such a life was at the apex of my initial ‘reversion’ to our Catholic faith. Our Blessed Mother had a lot to do with my return to the Lord. She called me out of a sinful life by her mother’s touch and gaze of profound love and purity. Having been freed from the chains of sin by the transforming and liberating graces of the sacrament of Confession, I was deeply moved to pursue the Lord.”

He adds, “I was blessed at that time in my life to know some amazing people of God and lovers of Our Lady. They became great models for me, and I soaked in the spirit of truth as they proclaimed Jesus and Mary to me.”

At the close of Scheibelhut’s freshman year at a secular college he needed to decide whether to search for a religious order or apply to Franciscan University of Steubenville. He decided to do both and was accepted at Steubenville while continuing to discern the possibility of a religious vocation.

During his senior year at Steubenville, Scheibelhut met with one of the mentors that Pope Benedict XVI mentioned as awaking his desire to respond to Christ’s call.
“I started meeting with Father Dan Scheidt on a somewhat regular basis,” he says. “He became my spiritual father, helping in a tremendous way to guide me to the Holy Spirit’s direction.”

After graduation from Steubenville, his association with those in the clergy expanded. “The examples throughout my life of the amazing, sacrificial love of our priests, especially our own Bishop-emeritus John D’Arcy has been very instrumental. I have been lovingly accepted by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who is truly a humble man, a shepherd after the heart of Christ, one that I desire to follow, by God’s grace and your prayers.”

Scheibelhut says that the timing for discerning a vocation in the priesthood is providential.

“It is indeed no mere ‘coincidence’ that so many young (and not as young) men in our diocese and throughout the whole universal Church have felt the call from Our Lord and His Bride, with Our Lady, to pursue the life that He Himself lived out for us; a life of total and utter sacrifice for His Bride, the Church.”

Queen of Peace Parish will mark the conclusion of the Year for Priests, on June 19 with a Mass at 9 a.m., followed by Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration until 3:30 p.m. Reconciliation will be offered from 3:30-5 p.m.with Benediction following at 5 p.m.

While the Year for Priests comes to a conclusion, Scheibelhut asks for continued prayers for all clergy and those in discernment.

“Please pray for all of us seminarians that we may continue to discern authentically and unselfishly the call to such a life,” he says. “Pray that we may be formed and molded, in the heart of our Mother Mary, into Christ. Pray for our priests, even after this Year for Priests. And pray for Bishop Kevin Rhoades. What a gift!”

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