May 27, 2015 // Local

Ordination to the Priesthood

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will ordain to the Priesthood Deacons Royce Gregerson, Bill Meininger, Matt Soberlaski and Jonathan Norton at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 1122 S. Clinton St. in Fort Wayne, on June 6 at 11 a.m. 

Deacon Royce Gregerson brings his deep relationship with Christ to Priesthood

FORT WAYNE — Deacon Royce Gregerson has been preparing for the day of his Ordination to the Priesthood by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on June 6 for many years with prayer and study, keeping his focus on the Priesthood of Christ.

“At the foundations of a priestly foundation has to be a profound relationship, a true friendship, with Christ,” he says.

A Marion native, Royce Vincent Gregerson is one of three children of Roy and Karen Gregerson, and is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne. He received his elementary education at St. Paul School in Marion, finishing at St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School after a move to Fort Wayne and graduated from Bishop Luers High School in 2005. He attended Wabash College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2009.

Growing up in a close-knit family, Deacon Gregerson credits his parents for his deep enduring faith. “My parents very conscientiously passed on the faith to us and made sure that the formation they were giving us in the faith was being complemented by the formation in the faith we received through Catholic schools,” he says.

His parents admit they were not surprised by his vocational call to the Priesthood. “When he was a small lad he would pretend to be a priest. As he grew older he held his Catholic values to be very important,” Roy says, adding that as he and his wife pray for their son and his fellow seminarians. They feel Deacon Gregerson will be, “a very sound priest, who is placing our Lord at the center of his life. A priest that is concerned with maintaining the tradition of the holy Catholic Church.”

Karen adds of her son’s ordination, “I have a great sense of anticipation, filled with joy and feel incredibly blessed to have a priest in the family. … I feel I have become closer to Jesus because of our son’s vocation as a priest and that his Holy Priesthood will have a positive impact on many people, but especially our immediate family.”

Deacon Gregerson also found inspiration in his parish priests, especially Father Duane Craycraft and Father Jim Shafer, and adds that his Catholic education and participation in his parish youth group were essential to responding to his vocation.

Though Deacon Gregerson has always been interested in the Priesthood, it was not until high school that he gave it great consideration. He says, “There was one particularly poignant moment while I was on a service trip with my youth group in which I realized that what made me most happy was serving others, which to me seemed to be embodied above all else in the Priesthood.”

Deacon Gregerson’s seminary formation began at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2011. He then studied in Rome where he was in residence at Pontifical North American College and in 2014 earned a Bachelor’s of Sacred Theology. Deacon Gregerson is currently working to earn a License of Sacred Theology in moral theology from Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, with an expected completion in 2016.

Seminary life has been a lesson in forming his relationship with Christ and with himself. “The seminary experience has helped to prepare me for the Priesthood above all by forming my relationship with Christ. … At the same time, seminary formation has forced me to confront myself, my own personality, limits and also strengths, and to conscientiously grow on a human level in addition to my spiritual growth,” he says.

Deacon Gregerson’s summer assignment experiences have been invaluable to his future ministry as priest. “I have had the example of many different excellent priests of our diocese to learn from, who have also encouraged me in my discernment and formation. … These experiences have made me even more excited to serve the people of this diocese as a priest,” he says.

This soon-to-be ordained priest also has a great love for music and cooking. “I think that both food and music have unique abilities to reach people, to begin dialogues about the most important things in life, as bridges between physical reality and the divine,” he says.

Deacon Gregerson was ordained to the diaconate in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter at the Altar of the Chair in Rome on Oct. 2, 2014. Now, months later, as he waits the glorious day of Ordination to the Priesthood he feels he brings his theological background and love of Christ to the Priesthood.

“The most important thing that I will bring to the Priesthood is a knowledge of Christ and a relationship with Him, a loving dialogue in prayer into which I hope to be able to introduce others,” he says, adding that his love of languages has him speaking not only English and Spanish but Italian and French as well, which will be helpful in his priestly ministry.

For those who may be discerning the Priesthood, Deacon Gregerson encourages prayer and reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession. Frequent conversations with a priest are also encouraged. “Above all, I would say that the most important thing is a total trust in God through prayer,” he says.

Following ordination, Deacon Gregerson looks forward to celebrating the sacraments, especially the Holy Mass, for and with the faithful.

He adds, “I look forward also to being able to accompany people during the most important times of their lives, baptizing their children, preparing them for marriage, helping them to address difficulties in their lives and sharing their joys, helping them to pray and to trust in God, and even preparing them for death and ministering to them in times of crisis.”

Father Gregerson will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.


Deacon Bill Meininger excited to share his love of God

FORT WAYNE — For Deacon William Anthony Meininger, preparing for the upcoming June 6 Ordination to the Priesthood by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has been a journey of prayer and trust.

“The past several months have included a lot of time on my knees in prayer. … The only thing to do now is pray, and trust that it is by the Lord that this has been done, and it is by the Lord that it will be brought to completion,” he says confidently.

Deacon Meininger, who hails from Canton, Ohio, is the son Bruce and Margaret Meininger, and is a member of St. Pius X Parish in Granger. He has one sister. Educated at Prairie College Elementary in Ohio, Deacon Meininger graduated from Canton South High School in 2003 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music education from The College of Wooster in 2007.

This soon-to-be priest first heard the call to a priestly vocation at the tender age of 13, much like his great uncle who entered seminary at that age. He credits his faith formation journey to the influence and inspiration of members of his family, especially his parents and grandparents. “My father has always been a wonderful example of strong Christian fatherhood and my mother and her late parents were and are always supportive of my pursuing my vocation to Holy Priesthood,” he says.

Mr. and Mrs. Meninginer admit that they began praying for their son’s vocation when he was 3 and have made pilgrimages and offered Mass intentions and prayers ever since. “We are very humbled that the Lord chose our son to be one of His holy priests. We couldn’t be more pleased and happy that our son heard His call and answered it,” they say, adding, “Bill will make a fine priest, and we pray that he will be able to touch the most hardened of hearts and guide them to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Lord promised St. Margaret.”

Before entering seminary he spent a year and a half of employment as a bank teller. He went on to earn a bachelor of philosophy from Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio in 2010, attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 2010-2011, and earned a Master of Divinity and master’s in theology and Church history from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, this year.

The deacon enjoys singing and playing various musical instruments, especially the piano, clarinet and accordion. During the summer months he enjoys gardening, hiking and biking in his spare time.

During the years of his formation, Deacon Meininger found himself first studying in Ohio and then more recently felt called to transfer to Mount St. Mary’s for the Priesthood in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The process he says has been a blessing. “Because each seminary had different administration, different academic programs, different standards for the student, I have become well versed in adapting to new situations, very useful when moving from parish to parish. Furthermore, I have learned how to focus on the essentials, and not on externals, while at the same time observing many varied ways to present the same essential message: the love of Jesus Christ,” he says.

Summer parish assignments have been of great benefit to him in his formation. “By living and working everyday with the people of God, I have fallen in love with them and cannot wait to give my life for them,” he says joyfully.

Deacon Meininger was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 24, 2014. Now he looks forward to his life as a priest and celebrating Mass is at the top of the list along with being assigned to a parish where he will “really enter into the lives of the people.”

“The best thing I can bring to the Priesthood is my love of God, His Church and His people, of these I have plenty and am excited to share!” he says enthusiastically.

His advice for anyone considering a
vocation? “First of all, developing a spiritual life is key to knowing God’s will for you. Connect with a good priest or religious to help guide you along. Most of all trust in God and don’t be afraid to enter the process. We can only discern these things so far on our own before we must enter into a more formal and intense time of discernment in the seminary or religious house. If you place it in God’s hands He will let you know His will beyond a doubt,” he offers.

Father Meininger will celebrate his first Mass of thanksgiving at 12:15 p.m. on June 7, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, at St. Pius X in Granger, with a Eucharistic Procession to follow. He says humbly, “As I approach ordination, I am very much looking forward to celebrating my first Mass, using the chalice purchased for Father Bill by my great grandparents in 1950. I will be the third priest in the family to use the chalice.”


Deacon Matt Soberalski offers joy and desire to minister to the Priesthood

FORT WAYNE — Deacon Matthew Robert Soberalski offers joy and the desire to minister as he prepares for June 6, the day of his Ordination to the Priesthood by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. He has spent time recently “praying and trying to keep my focus on what is really important,” he says.

A native of Michigan, Deacon Soberalski is the only son of the three children of Sue and Ed Soberalski. Residing in Fort Wayne, he is a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish. Deacon Soberalski graduated from Carroll High School in 2006. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Master of Divinity this year.

His faith formation, he says, has been greatly influenced by not only parish priests, especially his former parish pastor, Msgr. John Kuzmich, but also his family members. “Family has likewise been great support, especially my parents and sisters and my since deceased grandparents,” he says.

Deacon Soberalski’s parents were a bit surprised by their son’s choice of vocations but know he is following the Lord’s call. “We are excited, blessed and very proud,” Sue says, with Ed adding, “Humbled.” They say of his coming Priesthood, “Judging from his assignments, we feel he will keep busy doing all that is asked of him. He has gotten to know and love a lot of people at the various parishes. Families and Kids seem to be of high interest in his ministry.”

This soon-to-be-priest first heard the call the Priesthood while in high school, but not until after graduation and meeting with Msgr. Bernard Galic, who was vocations director at that time, did he consider seminary in earnest. Of his call he says, “… It was not until probably my second year in seminary that I really felt the call and began to personally respond to the call. Before seminary the call was a response to a longing in me for more and while in seminary it became a response to God the source of the call.”

Seminary life has been inspirational and nourishing for this humble seminarian. “It has provided the tools and environment to discern the call and respond to the call,” he says. “It is a chance to grow and to be nourished spiritually, intellectually, humanly and pastorally. Seminary life provides a man an atmosphere to really meditate and listen for the voice of God speaking to him, a voice that is often very difficult to hear amidst the business and noise of society.”

During his discernment in seminary, Deacon Soberalski benefited from his summer parish assignments at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, St. Pius X in Granger and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne by learning parish life from seasoned priests.

He says, “It provides us a chance to encounter what we learn about from our professors and in books in an actual real life parish. The assignments give us the opportunity to learn at the feet of real men who have heard the call, responded to the call and who now assist us in doing likewise.”

He speaks highly of his priest mentors, saying, “They have been immensely helpful and inspirational. I have found the experiences of the various priests and the wisdom that they have offered to be as valuable if not more valuable than anything from seminary.”

Ordained to the diaconate on May 24, 2014, by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Deacon Soberalski has spent the past year “getting to know and serving the people of God as a servant of Christ.”

He now looks forward to living the holy life a diocesan priest and hopes to bring an open heart ready and willing to serve God and His people. He enjoys sports, especially golf and basketball, and the outdoors and looks forward to continuing to use activity and his active lifestyle in his ministry. And in his experience he has learned that God will provide “beyond anything I can think up.”

He hopes other young men will be open to the call to the Priesthood and advises them to talk with someone about it, especially a parish priest, “And pray about it,” he says confidently.

Father Soberalski will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne on Sunday, June 7, at 6 p.m.


Deacon Jonathan Norton anticipates Priesthood with great joy

FORT WAYNE — Deacon Jonathan Blake Norton has been praying fervently in anticipation of his upcoming Ordination to the Priesthood by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on June 6. He not only prays for graces for himself and fellow seminarians but for the families of his next parish assignment. “I know that there will be people and families who invite me into their lives, sharing their hopes, joys, fears and struggles. I have faith in the Lord that He will use me to provide them with grace,” he says.

Born in east Texas one of three children of Grant and Nola Norton, Deacon Norton calls Fort Wayne his home where he and his family attend Our Lady of Good Hope Parish. He attended both Radium Springs Elementary in Albany, Georgia, and Village Woods Middle in Fort Wayne for his elementary education and graduated in 2000 from Bishop Luers High School. He enjoys watching football and war-action movies and participating in basketball, football, ultimate frisbee, cycling and soccer.

Deacon Norton’s deep faith was formed, he says, by the enduring faith example of his grandparents and his mother’s persistence in his attending weekly Mass and religion education classes. He also had the opportunity at a young age to speak to a priest about a vocation.

He says, “I grew up attending Mass on the Marine base in Georgia. It was there that the chaplain, Father James O’Kielty, spoke to me about a vocation to the Priesthood.”

And he adds that it was as he observed the life of this priest that he first heard God’s call. “I first heard a call to the Priesthood while learning to serve at Mass on the base in Georgia. Father O’Kielty was a very fun priest to be around. He was very joyful and a great example of the Priesthood early on in my life,” he says.

Following high school graduation, Deacon Norton attended Indiana Tech for a year, then transferred to Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne. He eventually took a break from higher education for a couple of years to work. It was during that time that he took an honest look at his life and the “nagging at his heart.”

“After spending much time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, speaking to seminarians, priests and friends I finally found the courage to apply for seminary,” he says.

His parents are not surprised that their son is weeks away from ordination. “We are very blessed to have our son being ordained to the Priesthood. He has always been a wonderful blessing to our family,” they say. “We are so happy to be witnesses to our son carrying out his call to help guide people to Jesus Christ.”

As they pray for their son and the other seminarians who will be ordained on June 6, the Nortons feel Jonathan will be a good and faithful servant of God. “Jonathan has always been able to connect to people of all ages. We pray the parish community he will be assigned to will care for him as if he was from their own family.”

Deacon Norton entered Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2011. He recently acquired a Master of Divinity from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. Maryland. His time in seminary has been one of great growth and challenge, he says, adding, “Above all, I believe that seminary has taught me to trust and depend more on the Lord in all things.”

As he approaches the date when he will be called “Father,” Deacon Norton found that his summer parish assignments have enhanced his formation in a variety of ways. He says, “My summer assignments have really helped me to develop fraternity with many priests in our diocese. They have been great mentors. Each in different ways has helped me to see all the many different aspects of priestly ministry. I also had the great joy of meeting so many truly amazing people within our diocese.”

Deacon Norton was ordained to the diaconate on May 24, 2014, by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne and now looks forward to his religious life. As an ordained priest he feels he will be approachable and sympathetic, and anticipates with great joy becoming established within a parish and “getting to know the families and sharing in their lives.”

Deacon Norton has been co-sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services through seminary and was recently accepted as a Chaplain Candidate with the U.S. Navy. Following his ordination Father Norton will serve in the diocese for three years before leaving to begin active duty in the Navy. He says, “I’m excited for this opportunity to serve both my Church and my country. Every parish that I visit in our diocese has a board filled with brave young men and women who have left northeast Indiana to serve. I look forward to going to all corners of the globe in order to serve them.”

As for those who may aspire to the Priesthood, Deacon Norton says, “Be not afraid! If you feel that you are being called, begin visiting the chapel every day, even for a few minutes, and keep asking our Lord to help you find the path of your vocation. But do not expect to know the whole plan right away. The Lord leads you each step of the way. If, with the help of others, you begin to feel called in a particular direction then pursues that path! … It’s a great adventure.”

Father Norton will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne at 12:30 p.m. on June 7, with a Eucharistic Procession to follow. A reception with first blessings will be held in the parish hall.



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