September 20, 2022 // Diocese

Opening his Heart to the Lord Led Anderson to Ordination

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson will never forget the events of Holy Week during his junior year of college, when – after years of hearing the Lord’s call – he finally opened his heart to desiring God’s will for his life.

Here is link to a livestream from the FaceBook page.

“At Holy Thursday Mass, when we celebrate the institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper, I felt just a resounding clarity,” recalled Anderson. “Then on Holy Friday, when the priests lay prostrate on the floor before the liturgy begins, I had an outpouring of desire to give myself in that way.”

On Sept. 29, Anderson will take the next step towards fulfilling this self-giving vocation. Along with 24 of his classmates, he will be ordained to the diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It’s the culmination of years of a renewed faith for Anderson – a journey that began while growing up in his hometown of Fort Wayne.

As a child, Anderson and his four sisters were provided “a pretty beautiful family life,” by their parents, including Mass on Sundays and a Catholic education at St. Vincent de Paul School and Bishop Dwenger High School. His pastor growing up was Monsignor John Kuzmich, whose priestly example left an indelible mark on Anderson.

“He was a joyful, gentle, and humble man who had such an appreciation for the mystery of God,” Anderson said of Monsignor Kuzmich. “He was someone who really lived that idea that all is grace, that everything is from the Lord, and that was very inviting to me.”

While faith was always a part of his life, Anderson admitted that it was not a priority when he graduated high school and arrived on the campus of Indiana University. “I kind of had my own plans I wanted to pursue,” Anderson said. “I studied biology and business, and I planned to open a medical practice and have a large family.”

It was during these college years that Anderson’s own vision for his life was challenged. Father Tom Kovatch, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in Bloomington, invited him to commit to a weekly holy hour his junior year. Slowly but surely, Anderson felt the Lord’s plans beginning to eclipse his own.

“The Lord’s call was always in my mind and on my heart, even through high school,” said Anderson. “But for a long time, I wasn’t open to it. It wasn’t until I took ownership of my faith and recommitted myself that if I believe this, I need to live this. And that means actually discerning the Lord’s will for my life.”

In the process of discernment, Anderson began feeling “a very strong call to serve and love as a priest.” Although this call initially came as a surprise to his family, it has only been strengthened as issues such as mental illness and loneliness tighten their grip on society. Anderson said he believes the Church is uniquely positioned to bring about healing in people’s lives.

“I look at the priests who I admire and the way they have been present and active in the family life of parishes,” said Anderson. “I look at the way that the family is suffering in the United States and under attack in many ways, and I see that as a huge goal today as a priest – to serve our families not just sacramentally, but to walk with them and journey with them in the Lord.”

Some of these priests who have been instrumental in Anderson’s walk of faith include Fathers Andrew Budzinski, Jacob Meyer, and Jason Freiburger. In addition, Father Dan Scheidt has been “an incredible spiritual father and mentor” to Anderson at his home parish of St. Vincent de Paul. Anderson is also extremely grateful to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who extended the opportunity for Anderson to study theology in Rome after two years of pre-theology in Maryland.

“I was surprised and knew I had to prayerfully consider it,” Anderson remarked of studying in Rome. “I definitely saw it as an opportunity to learn and be formed in a particular setting so close to the Holy Father, but I was certainly nervous about being so far from the [Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend]. But I think it was aligned with my natural desires. I studied abroad in college, and I love learning about different cultures and languages. It’s been challenging but a great blessing and opportunity.”

Anderson is now fluent conversationally in both Spanish and Italian, and he’s passionate about getting involved with Hispanic ministry in the diocese. He was able to practice his Spanish on his summer assignment at St. Michael in Plymouth, an assignment that Anderson called “providential placement,” as his ordination date of Sept. 29 is also the Feast of the Holy Archangels.

However, St. Michael isn’t the only saint who has walked beside Anderson on his journey. He also acknowledged his confirmation saint, St. Augustine, and the powerful experience of reading “The Confessions” during his undergraduate studies. St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, has been an intercessor for Anderson by showing him “a heart that is full of joy for the Lord.” Finally, Anderson has leaned on the prayerful example of St. Theresa of Calcutta.

By keeping his heart open to God’s will in his life, Anderson’s own plans to open a medical practice and have a large family may in fact be realized after all: he’s preparing to minister to the spiritual health of his brothers and sisters in Christ, while his Church and parish families will only continue to grow. As Anderson takes one step closer to the priesthood, he looks forward to “making that ‘yes’ definitive in a permanent and sacramental way – to be consecrated to the Lord and belong to Him entirely.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.