By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor
Three seminarians who are nearing the end of their studies for the priesthood will be ordained to the diaconate on April 28 at St. Barnabas Church, 3042 Hikes Lane. The ordination of Nicholas J. Brown, Steven D. Henriksen and Christopher B. Lubecke will begin at 11 a.m. and all people of the Archdiocese of Louisville are invited to attend.
Ordination to the diaconate precedes ordination to the priesthood and is considered a major step in the formation process.
Nicholas John Brown, 30, is a native of Louisville. He grew up in St. Barnabas parish where he’ll be ordained Saturday. He graduated from St. Barnabas School in 1996 and went on to attend Waggener High School, graduating in 2000.
He completed undergraduate studies at Marian University, a college seminary in Indianapolis, Ind. He is currently continuing his studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind.
Brown said during a phone interview that he fell away from his faith during high school and his early 20s. When he rediscovered his faith, almost immediately, “I knew I wanted to get into some kind of ministry,” he said during a phone interview last week.
When he became interested in religion initially, he said, he turned to the Southern Baptist Seminary. But during his first semester, he began attending his childhood parish again. “Once I started going back and reading up, it was a quick transition. I wondered where I’d been; I could have been so much happier” if he had maintained his Catholic faith life, he said.
Brown said he was influenced by several priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville, including Father Wayne Jenkins who was his pastor at St. Barnabas. Currently, he helps with religious education at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. His parents are Michael and Denise Brown, members of St. Barnabas. He also has an older brother, Mike, and a 7-year-old niece.
Steven Douglas Henriksen, 52, is the first “seminarian blogger” for the Archdiocese of Louisville Vocation Office blog. The blog can be read at louisvillevocations.blogspot.com.
He grew up in five different communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois — moving frequently for his father’s job. Today, he attends seminary at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisc.
Henriksen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
While working as the director of business and financial services for the Illinois’ Student Assistance Commission, Henriksen studied higher education in a doctoral program at Loyola University in Chicago. In the process of crafting his dissertation — which sought to examine how mid-life Catholic professionals understand their lives as a vocation — Henriksen began to examine his own vocation.
He asked himself, “How was it that I, at this particular point in my life, saw myself living out my call, as not only a baptized Christian and a man of faith, but also as a person seeking to live out the ideal of public service,” he wrote in an email to The Record recently. “Fortunately for me, this question, one central to my identity and experience as a prospective seminarian, found a conclusion when I entered seminary, studying for the Archdiocese of Louisville, in the fall of 2007.”
Henriksen’s home parish here in the Archdiocese of Louisville is the Cathedral of the Assumption. He said in his email that he was grateful to the priests and parishes here that have helped guide him, including St. Albert the Great, Good Shepherd and Immaculate Conception churches and Fathers Mark Spalding, John Burke, Don Hill, William Bowling, Jeffrey Shooner and Joseph Rankin.
He has one sister, a brother-in-law and two nieces. His parents, who are natives of Iowa, were married for 49 years until his father died in 2008.
Christopher Bradley Lubecke, 46, just returned from Greece and Turkey where he and other seminarians made a pilgrimage along the Footsteps of St. Paul and St. John.
He is a native of Mellen, Wisc., and came to the Archdiocese of Louisville by way of the United States Army. He was stationed at Fort Knox in 2005 when he retired after 21 years of service.
He said during a phone interview Monday that he had been thinking about the priesthood since 2001, when a chaplain at Fort Knox wondered if he’d considered priesthood. Chaplains change every two years, he noted, and the next two chaplains also encouraged him to look into a vocation, he said.
” ‘They said you’re so involved here and you’re so involved with vocational promotion,’ why haven’t I stepped up to the plate? Initially, I thought I was too old. And once that barrier was dropped it took time for that seed to grow,” Lubecke said.
He took two years to discern that calling and entered seminary in 2007.
Part of the call for him centered on his awareness that the clergy is aging and new priests are needed. He also said that his professional life has always been a vocation — something he lived “24-7, 365.” That’s something priests and soldiers have in common.
“I have a motto ever since I started this process,” he said. It’s one meant for the priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville to hear. “The motto is, ‘Help is on the way.’ ”
Lubecke earned a bachelor’s degree in theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Md., and continues to study there for a masters degree.
His home parish in the Archdiocese of Louisville is St. Rita Church. He has also served at St. Athanasius, St. Rita and University of Louisville hospital.
Barbara Lubecke, his mother, who lives in Mellen, Wisc., plans to attend the ordination.