Here is a selection of members of the Ordination Class of 2015.
Below are their responses to the question: "People might be surprised to know..."
"I have a passion for camping, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and performing music, especially on the guitar."
Rev. Matthew Alexander
"I climbed the East Buttress of El Capitan in Yosemite and studied overseas in St. Petersburg, Russia for eight months before entering the seminary. I moreover have an interest is serving the poor and the homeless throughout my community."
Rev. Scott Baier
Portland in Oregon
"I was able to get to know priests, talk with them and also experience first hand what it is like to be in ministry. Without this opportunity I might be doing something else right now."
Rev. Manuel Becerra
"I first seriously considered a vocation to the priesthood after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. It was my first year of college and I began to think... there has to be more to life than making money."
Rev. Erick Berrelleza, SJ
Society of Jesus, California Province
"I was enjoying a successful career in the military and did not leave it behind because of disappointment but to follow the Lord from whom I most gratefully received that gift, confident that I would be equally blessed by following where He now has led me. It has certainly proven true."
Rev. Raymond-Marie Bryce, OP
Order of Preachers, Province of St. Albert the Great (Central Province)
"I experienced a resurgence of my vocation while I was in Rome as a study abroad student during my junior year of college."
Rev. Andrew Bulso
"I was married to a wonderful woman I met at the Naval Academy. God blessed us with five beautiful children and a great life in the Navy. My wife was called home to the Lord in 2008 and then called me to the seminary in 2011. Thanks be to God!"
Rev. Jim Cardosi
"I had heard a whisper of a call through my early childhood and avoided it in my teens. Through campus ministry I could not avoid it and realized my happiness was in doing what the Lord made me to do."
Rev. Curtis Carro
"I did not feel called to the priesthood until I after I finished graduate school and started working as a defense analyst."
Rev. Daniel Cogut
"I was a collegiate wrestler, and as an engineer I hold three US Patents in fiber optic technologies."
Rev. Casey Coleman
"I am a genealogist. One day while in seminary I discovered that I am a direct descendant of Martin Luther."
Rev. Michael Cronin
"I can say the Mass in Vietnamese."
Rev. Anthony Cusack
"I am a pilot, a scientist and a musician."
Rev. Juan Pablo Marrufo del Toro, S.J.
Society of Jesus, Oregon Province
"After a time away from the Church, I rediscovered the beauty and the importance of the faith in my life through the Neocatechumenal Way. Also, I am fortunate to be the sixth of eleven children! My five older siblings are married, so I have 18 nephew and nieces!"
Rev. Andrea Filippucci
"I was a high school English Literature teacher before entering seminary, and still enjoy reading literature and writing. I love driving around the United States exploring the natural beauty of our country, and have visited forty-six states so far."
Rev. Matthew Fish
"I love both NASCAR and opera."
Rev. Aaron Foshee
"I believe that I was called to the priesthood when I received my First Communion at eight (y/o), while I was living in Mexico. I wanted to be like my pastor, Father Luis Conchas Barajas, a man who loved the Church and the people. I entered seminary at 35 after a very successful life. My maturity and love for the Church, strengthened by my love for our Blessed Mother Mary, helped me make a decision that would change my life forever. I look forward to my ordination and to serve my diocese as my childhood priest did. O, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you. Inmaculado Corazon de Maria, sed la salvacion del alma mia!"
Rev. Jesus Guadalupe Garza
"I have felt a calling to be a priest since I was very young, but my life went in many directions before I was able to fully accept the call. I was blessed to be a high school teacher, a adjunct college lecturer, a employee in the development office of a New York museum, and a bookstore clerk before I entered the seminary. These were all very rich experiences for future ministry."
Rev. John Gribowich
"I was married for 25 years before the priesthood, and as a widower I have three sons who are now young adults."
Rev. James Grogan
"I did not want to actively pursue entering a religious order until after I completed my undergraduate degree. It was actually my undergraduate degree program (ecology) and local Catholic campus ministry environment that fostered my Catholic faith."
Rev. Bryan Hajovsky, OFM Conv.
Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Conventual Franciscans) from the Province of Our Lady of Consolation
"I spent eight years as a medicinal chemist doing research toward discovering new medicines that could help treat different types of cancers or inflammatory diseases."
Rev. Jeremy Hans
"I worked as a radio DJ before entering seminary. I continue to enjoy both road and trail running."
Rev. Michael Hartge
"I am an avid hiker, mountain biker and mountain climber."
Rev. Christopher Iwancio
Capuchin Franciscan, Our Lady of Angels Province
"I entered my religious order to be a Brother. Only after being approached by some other brothers in the community did I really begin discerning priesthood. I guess we never know where God is going to lead us."
Rev. Robert Jones
Society of Mary - Marianists, Province of the United States
"I have two beautiful adult children who are very supportive of my vocations to religious life and to the priesthood. I retired at age 37 from a twenty-year business career and then entered the seminary."
A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem.
Canons Regular of Prémontré
"I am a firefighter for the Saint John’s Fire Department."
Rev. Nick Kleespie, O.S.B.
Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN
"I hold a Second Degree Black Belt in Shotokan Karate."
Rev. Anthony Klimko
"I have a working grasp of about 10 languages, did a half Ironman, love baking, studied my first year of theology in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, second and third in Washington, DC, and my fourth in Lublin, Poland."
Rev. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC
Marians of the Immaculate Conception
"I played and coached rugby for over eight years and in large part attribute my conviction in saying yes to this vocation to the great witness of community and other-mindedness that I experienced in the rugby teams that I was a part of."
Rev. Joshua Laws
"I played football for four years and wrestled for one year in college. I completed medical school, but entered seminary instead of beginning residency."
Rev. Christopher Lebsock
"I was a West Point Cadet from 2001-2003. I performed stand-up comedy while in theology studies for two years to prep myself for engaging preaching. I even had a spot on TV doing standup. I’m a songwriter, and I am currently working on a musical about a seminary."
Rev. Erik Lenhart, OFM Cap.
Capuchin Franciscans - St. Mary Province
"I used to be a PGA Golf Professional and ran the New Orleans/Baton Rouge U.S. Kids Golf Tour from 2005-2007. I enjoy watching a good movie and making new friends."
Rev. Jacob Lipari
"I have written a handful of books spanning several different genres (children, informational, devotional)."
Rev. Edward Looney
"I worked for the same company for twenty years prior to entering the seminary."
Rev. Elias Lopez
"I worked in broadcast journalism, then the entertainment field and then the corporate world before realizing that serving the Lord was what I enjoy most."
Rev. Mark Matthias
"It was through my profession in the allied medical health background and care for the sick and elderly that I discerned to answer my vocation. I like culinary/cooking, flowering plant pottery, and dancing. I love mountaineering too because I love to be with nature where I see God's imprints."
Rev. Ronaldo Mercado
"I enjoy riding motorcycles and going hunting! I also enjoy using my hands for home remodeling projects. Most of all, spending time with the family is the best way to use my time!"
Rev. Jeremy Merzweiler
"I come from a mixed Catholic and Mormon background."
Rev. Alexander Millar
"I have two younger brothers who are also in the seminary. One will be ordained a transitional deacon this May, one week before my priesthood ordination. My personal hobbies include cross-fit training, martial arts, target-shooting, and car-mechanics/off-roading."
Rev. David Miloscia
"I have two siblings in religious life, a brother who is a Benedictine and a sister who is a Carmelite."
Rev. Noah Morey
"I was amazed at the sacrifice the military chaplains make in catering for the soldiers and their families and friends. Indeed, it is awesome to be a soldier for the Lord and a soldier for the country. I love soccer so very much. My favorite club is Chelsea FC of London. I am also a certified soccer referee."
Rev. Adolphus Muoghalu
"When I was a member of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, a picture of a student kicking a soccer ball on a Divine Word College Seminary magazine attracted me to become a missionary priest. The vocation ball kept on rolling as I met authentic people who were dedicated, joyful, and passionate about serving God and other people across different mission fields. The vocation ball is now leading this Vietnamese-American Divine Word Missionary back to the field of Mozambique."
Rev. Giang Nguyen
Society of the Divine Word
"I am a high school science teacher by training and hope to work in that capacity as a priest. I am especially grateful for the many teachers and colleagues--particularly in the sciences--who encouraged me in my priestly vocation. May our study and work always be for God’s greater glory!"
Rev. John Nugent, SJ
Society of Jesus
"My family was and has always remained the greatest encouragement, in addition to the Catholic environment that I grew in."
Rev. Lukas Oduor
"I initially deferred admission to the seminary. But after more prayer and reflection the following year, I felt God calling me back to his plan for my life which was to enter formation with the Congregation of Holy Cross."
Rev. Daniel Ponisciak, CSC
Congregation of Holy Cross - United States Province
"I have a younger brother in the seminary as well. It speaks to the support we have had from our family and friends, as well the blessing of Catholic school education."
Rev. Christopher Rehagen, CSC
Congregation of Holy Cross - United States Province
"I was directly inspired to consider the priesthood through the death of Pope St. John Paul II. His death was the occasion for me to be inspired by his life of joy and mission, and also his witness to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which God used to implant in me a desire to follow in his footsteps."
Rev. Andrew Rockers
"I love to cook. It is an outlet for me on my days off and even during the week to be creative. I see it as a way to gather clergy or lay people around the dining room table to break bread and to break open our lives. Jesus gives us a great example of this when he goes to meals or even cooks for his disciples—he restores them!"
Rev. Marinello Saguin
"I entered seminary after working 25 years as a pediatrician, after my wife’s death in 2009."
Rev. Dennis Saran
"I never knew that I was a baptized Catholic until I entered RCIA at age twenty and my parents dug out my infant baptismal certificate!"
Rev. Jason Simas
"I served in the Iraq War from 2003-2004 as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. Than I worked as a part time police officer and at a wildlife hospital for birds of prey during college and before entering seminary."
Rev. Martin Smith
Springfield in Illinois
"I graduated from college with a dual-degree in Business Administration and Music. When I first entered the seminary, I thought that all my years of college education would go to waste; but I was definitely wrong! I have used my talents and skills, and put them to the service of God and of His Church."
Rev. Victor Ommar Solis
"At one point I wanted to operate a garden center. It was my desire to provide a place where a sort of community could develop centered on my love for growing plants. The parish allows me to fulfill this desire on the supernatural level where I can share God's ever-abundant love."
Rev. Daniel Thelen
"I am deaf and from India, where universities and seminaries do not have sign language interpreters. American sign language interpreters in the universities and seminaries helped me to become a priest – God bless America."
Br. Joseph Thermadom, OP Miss.
Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate
"I enjoy visiting Civil War sites, taking day hikes in the mountains of N.Georgia/Western North Carolina, and reading fiction and anything about history. I also finished nine marathons, including Boston and New York City, when I was in my twenties and thirties."
Rev. Mark Thomas
"I have a background in the biological sciences, and almost always have a song in my heart (and on my lips)."
Rev. Ike Udoh, SJ
Society of Jesus
"I am a young man full of God who wants to serve His people. In a way I can relate my calling to the one of David. I am the youngest one of fourteen brothers. All of them are very talented, but God saw something in me. All I had to do at an early age was to answer God's call!"
Rev. Alejandro Urena
"I am a filmmaker and have participated in a secular film festival. They may also be surprised that I still have a desire to go skydiving."
Br. Peter Vecellio, OCD
Western Province of Discalced Carmelites
"I have played the pipe organs in the cathedrals of Amiens, Soissons, Rouen and Beauvais in France."
Rev. William Wadsworth
"I served as a Financial Advisor and as a U.S. Army Officer before entering seminary. God has been "tugging on my sleeve" for a long time. When I was four years old, I felt God calling me to be a Lutheran Pastor. (I was Lutheran then.) Over the years, I continued to feel His call to ministry. In 1998, I entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. In 2005, I heard my first call to the priesthood and in 2010 I entered seminary."
Rev. Rich Wilson