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Austin Steffen to be ordained in Rome Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 20, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
Austin Steffen
Austin Steffen

ROME, Italy -- Austin Steffen, a Diocese of Madison seminarian, will be ordained as a transitional deacon on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The son of Colette and Tim Steffen of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Cuba City, he attended St. Rose Catholic Grade School and Cuba City High School in Cuba City; the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Platteville; Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Winona, Minn., where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in philosophy; the North American College and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

He was involved as an altar server throughout grade school and went on mission trips through the Catholic Heart Work Camp in high school. He attended daily Mass throughout the summers off from school and while in college. He also helped with a youth group in Platteville while he was a student there.

He explains why he decided to enter the seminary. "I joined the seminary after discerning for many years. I first heard God's call when I was an altar server in fifth grade. I continued to feel called through high school, but to be honest, in a public high school, religious attitudes were met with a sort of judgement and thought of as 'uncool.' Plus, I wanted to be an engineer who designed cars and mechanical systems, so I went to UW-Platteville instead of the seminary."

While he was at UW-Platteville, he said, "I was greatly impressed by the witness of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest priests and their commitment to the Gospel even in persecution. I started to pray more earnestly about my vocation and was able to respond to God's call in my sophomore year."

The most influential people in his decision to enter the seminary were the priests in Platteville. "I was moved by the example of the priests in Platteville. Their faithfulness and reverence in the liturgy really struck me and gave me a new appreciation for the importance of the sacraments. Outside of the liturgy, they were just themselves, and they embodied a joyful life that the priesthood could be."

He said his seminary experiences have helped him "by giving the tools needed to discern well and be formed into the man God has called. I have grown deeper in my relationship with God through retreats and spiritual direction and came to the certainty of God's call at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary.

"At the North American College, I have come to grow in my pastoral skills through conferences and seminars, especially in opportunities to practice preaching and counseling. I have grown in a better understanding of myself and what gifts and talents God has asked me to share with others through the sometimes trying experience of living in a different country. In my studies, I have grown in a deeper understanding of our Catholic faith and how the truth of the Gospel interacts with daily life."

His pastoral assignments during the seminary have included visiting people in the hospital and nursing homes, tutoring grade school students, serving food to the poor, and assisting with campus ministry.

In the summer of 2017, he returned to the Diocese of Madison to help at St. Peter and St. Martin of Tours Parishes in Ashton and Martinsville. "I assisted with liturgies by setting up before Mass, serving and reading at daily Mass, and helping the servers for Sunday Masses. I brought Communion to the homebound and went with Fr. Tait Schroeder (then the pastor) on his pastoral visits."

On his ordination to the transitional diaconate, Steffen said, "I am excited to be getting ordained and looking forward to preaching the Word of God and assisting the priest at the altar. It will be wonderful to be able to minister after six years of studies and practice."

 
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