Age • 29
Family •Parents, Julie and Joel; brothers, Frank, Keith and Kurt; sister, Claire
Parish • Mary Queen of Peace, Webster Groves
Education • Mary Queen of Peace School in Webster Groves; Saint Louis University High School; bachelor’s degree in engineering, double major in chemical engineering and physics, Vanderbilt University; one year of teaching at De Smet Jesuit High School (2013); studies in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; bachelor’s degree in sacred theology, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; currently working on a licentiate in biblical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
First Mass of Thanksgiving •9 a.m. Sunday, May 26, at Mary Queen of Peace Church, 676 W. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves
The call to the priesthood • “I remember wanting to be a priest when I was in fourth grade, 10 years old. It seemed like the kind of “imagination” that kids have when growing up — firefighter, pilot, astronaut — but it never went away, and it settled into a kind of “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” I was especially drawn to the Mass. I loved to serve Mass. I would sign up for funerals and other Masses that servers were not scheduled for. I started going to daily Mass on some days before school when I was in seventh grade, which I kept up through high school.
“All through high school I expected I would go to seminary when I graduated — I figured I would go to the Jesuit novitiate. But my mom wanted me to go to university. So I applied to different schools and ended up with a great offer at Vanderbilt. We had a fantastic chaplaincy, and I am very grateful to the chaplain, the FOCUS team, and the rest of the staff for the good place they helped to create at Vanderbilt while I was there.
“I attended a Jesuit Come-and-See weekend at Saint Louis University, and it became clear to me while I was there that I was not supposed to apply to the Jesuits. So I applied to Kenrick-Glennon, and I’ve been very happy and confident that I am in the right place ever since. It’s great finally to have reached the end!”
I want to take a few minutes to say congratulations to Stephen – will will be ordained this morning as a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I “borrowed” the article above from the St. Louis Review. Stephen has a beautiful aura about him that makes him a perfect fit for the vocation he has chosen. He is probably the second smartest person I know – good look guessing on who is the smartest – but even with all his book smarts, he knows how to relate to the regular people like myself. He has a constant smile on his face; I believe this is from knowing full well he has accepted his call from God to be a priest for God. The only time I can honestly say I’ve seen him stressed out was after losing an annual Turkey Day soccer game and having to watch his cousin Richard receive the MVP award (as voted on by his cousin Richard).
One quick shout out to Stephen’s family. His parents Joel and Julie, although no longer together, both deserve full credit for shaping Stephen into the man he is today. They pushed, they supported, they praised, they loved, they traveled but I believe most of all they provided him a strong foundation in the Catholic faith that has led Stephen to this most special moment today.
Stephen – God bless you for choosing this vocation. May God be with you on this journey that begins today. The only words of wisdom I will offer you comes not from me, but from today’s Gospel…taken from the optional readings for the Memorial of St. Gregory the VII, Pope, Religious…
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Stephen – today you will become “in persona Christi”; you will now have the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself. I pray that you do not take this responsibility lightly because this call came from the mouth of God Himself. Again, may God bless you on this day and everyday of your life lived for the Church.
Do something great for our Lord today – say a prayer for Stephen; say a prayer for the 6 other gentlemen who will be ordained with Stephen; say a prayer for Joel and Julie who’s yes to God brought Stephen into this world. Finally, say a prayer of thanksgiving to our awesome God for this beautiful day today.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.