Seminarians are men with ‘pastoral hearts’

Seminarians, standing from left, Robert Hale, Conor Wellman, Alan Crush, Fermin Luna and Michael Schultz listened as fellow seminarians discussed their summer assignments during an annual luncheon sponsored by the Serra Club on Aug. 7. The Archdiocese of Louisville currently has 19 seminarians. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Seminarians, standing from left, Robert Hale, Conor Wellman, Alan Crush, Fermin Luna and Michael Schultz listened as fellow seminarians discussed their summer assignments during an annual luncheon sponsored by the Serra Club on Aug. 7. The Archdiocese of Louisville currently has 19 seminarians. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

This fall 19 men in formation to be priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville are heading to seminaries to pursue presbyteral studies.

Composing this year’s seminary class are 16 men who are continuing formation for the archdiocese and three who are new this year.

Together, they are an “incredible representation of our archdiocese,” said Father Michael Wimsatt, director of the Vocation Office. The seminarians range in age from 18 to 57, come from two countries — the U.S. and Vietnam — and represent 16 parishes in the archdiocese.

Five of the men — Deacons Robert Barnell, Brandon DeToma, Kien Nguyen, Minh Vu and David Farrell — are expected to be ordained priests next spring. An additional three men will likely be ordained to the transitional diaconate in the spring, a step on their path to the 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 supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.

Though the 19 men attend four different seminaries in the U.S. and Rome, the times they are all together are “joyful and sincere,” Father Wimsatt said.

Father Shayne Duvall, associate director of vocations, said the men enjoy being with each other and being at their parishes.

“I think these men have a pastoral heart,” he said.

In recent years, the archdiocese has seen an uptick in men considering the priesthood. In 2007, there were just three seminarians in formation to be priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Despite this increase, more can be done, Father Wimsatt said.

“For all the strides that have been made, we very much have the sensibility in the Vocation Office that there is much, much more that can be done in parishes and in schools and amongst priests themselves to nurture vocations,” he said.

Father Duvall urges each parish in the archdiocese to “encourage, promote and support vocations — to whatever God is calling you to do.”

“I’m convinced that in our 110 parishes, there is a man in each parish that is discerning priesthood,” Father Duvall said. “Wouldn’t that be something if each parish would pray like crazy for a young man — or older man — to at least give it a shot.”

Father Wimsatt said a special word of encouragement from the parish pastor can have a significant impact on someone who is inwardly considering the priesthood.

“One of our seminarians told me that before he ever made public his thoughts about going to seminary, his pastor said to him: ‘Every time I pray about priestly vocations, your name comes to mind.’ A heartfelt message like that can change someone’s life,” he said.

The Vocation Office will host a St. Andrew Dinner this fall to encourage young men in their discernment. In order to attend, young men must be identified by their pastors or others in their parishes. They will be invited to attend a dinner and discussion with their peers and church leaders. The date has not yet been set. For more information, contact the Vocation Office at 636-0296 or vocation@archlou.org.

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