Encouragement key for new priests Print
Thursday, Jul. 13, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

We rejoice in the ordination of three new priests for the Diocese of Madison: Frs. Jared Holzhuter, Andrew Showers, and Luke Syse.

While we thank God for the gift of their priesthood, some of us can also take a little credit for their ordination.

Importance of encouragement

Why is that? According to the annual survey of this year’s ordination class, 82 percent of the men ordained to the priesthood were encouraged by four people in their lives, including parish priests, friends, or other parishioners.

The Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) reported that  a staggering number of those ordained this year were encouraged by others to consider a priestly vocation.

“That statistic should motivate all the faithful to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit, who may wish to use them to extend the invitation to ordained ministry,” noted Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR of Newark, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations.

In 2016, I asked the three men being ordained this year to tell me who influenced their decision to become a priest.

Who influenced new priests

Jared Holzhuter replied, “My parents (Tammie and John Holzhuter of St. John Vianney Parish in Janesville) were most influential in my decision. They gave me faith and a sense of God’s presence in daily life. My desire for priesthood was also fostered through relationships with my grandparents and by the witness of many happy priests.”

Luke Syse also said his parents (Patty and Jim Syse of St. Isidore Parish in Blanchardville) influenced him. “I must first say my parents. They brought me up in a loving home where we knew the importance of going to Mass on Sunday. My Mom even mentioned the priesthood once or twice when I was younger and it stuck with me.”

Luke also talked about being influenced by the faith community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “In college, I was helped by the great community of St. Paul’s. I found a community where I could grow in my faith and begin to pray. I was very blessed to meet some great priests in downtown Madison. Their preaching and counsel was a way that God shaped my vocation.”

And there is Andrew Showers, who said a Schoenstatt priest who was a college chaplain had a “big impact” on his vocation. He also said several other priests influenced his discernment.

Doing our part

So it is obvious that all three of our new priests received encouragement and support in hearing and answering the call to priesthood.

We can continue to do our part to help other men by mentioning the possibility of the priesthood to good candidates, showing support for our seminarians, and, above all, praying for them. I do so every week during Eucharistic Adoration, and I urge our readers to do the same.

May God bless our newly ordained priests and all our priests who do so much for us. Let’s make an effort to express appreciation for our priests!