By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Eighteen men in formation to be priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville were among the multitudes of students returning to school this fall.
This year’s seminary class is a diverse group of men, Father Michael Wimsatt, director of the Vocation Office, said in an interview last week. They range in age from 18 to 51, represent 13 parishes in the archdiocese and hail from three countries, including the U.S., Vietnam and the Philippines. (Find full listing of seminarians below).
Two of the men — Deacons Michael Martin and Casey Sanders — are expected to be ordained to the presbyterate next spring. And, an additional five men are expected to be ordained to the diaconate, a step on their path to priesthood.
The Vocation Office, which coordinates the formation of seminarians and assists those discerning a call to the priesthood, is one of the dozens of ministries funded by the Catholic Services Appeal.
Father Wimsatt said he’s impressed by the seminarians, especially by their sense of joy.
“Whenever they are around one another, they laugh a lot. Their happiness will be a great gift to the archdiocese, and their happiness is one of the best ways to promote vocations,” he said.
Father Wimsatt said the people of the archdiocese have
an important role to play in the lives of those discerning a call to the priesthood. In a new report, called “Class of 2016: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood,” 51 percent of new priests who responded to a survey said they were discouraged from considering the priesthood. The survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research group.
“If so many men are discouraged from going to seminary or becoming priests, what does that say about how important it is to encourage priestly vocations,” Father Wimsatt said.
The Vocation Office aims to encourage men and women interested in a religious vocation. Father Wimsatt now has additional help in that mission. Father Shayne Duvall has been assigned as an associate director of vocations on a part-time basis. He joins Benedictine Sister Sarah Yungwirth who also serves as an associate director of vocations.
Father Wimsatt said Father Duvall is an asset to the office. Father Duvall brings “enthusiasm, a love for the church and a love for the priesthood,” he said.
Father Duvall was ordained in May 2015 and serves as the associate pastor of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky. He said he looks at his work in the Vocation Office as a way of giving back.
“When I was in the discernment stage, application stage and then seminary, I had a lot of priests take me under their wing and support and encourage me,” he said. “I feel like it’s my time to give back.”
He said the addition of another priest to the Vocation Office is something that will speak volumes to the people of the archdiocese, especially young people.
“I think it’s good for young people in the archdiocese to see young energetic priests, who love their priesthood, working side by side,” Father Duvall said.
To encourage young men in their discernment, the Vocation Office will host two St. Andrew Dinners this fall. Young men, who must be identified by their pastors or others in their parishes, will be invited to attend a dinner and discussion with their peers and church leaders.
The first dinner will be held at the Cathedral of the Assumption on Oct. 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.. The second dinner will be held at St. Thomas Church in Bardstown, Ky., on Dec. 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Those interested in learning more about the dinner or recommending a young man, may call the Vocation Office at 636-0296.