My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On Saturday, Nov. 4, I will run the Indianapolis Marathon, God willing. Since beginning my marathon training on July 1, I have run 535 miles, including three long training runs of 20, 21 and 21.2 miles, so I should be ready to go. If all goes well, this will be my 23rd marathon.
One of the reasons why I run marathons is to raise money for worthwhile causes. In the course of my 22 marathons, I have raised more than $460,000.00 for various charities. This year, my designated fundraising cause for the Indianapolis Marathon is “Running for Priestly Vocations.” I am asking the people of our diocese to show their support for the 24 seminarians currently studying to become priests of our diocese by making a donation of at least $1 per mile. Since every marathon by definition is 26.2 miles, that comes to $26.20, but donations of any amount are welcome. Those who are able are asked to give more.
Why is this needed? From a financial perspective, those of you with children or grandchildren in college know the cost of higher education. The cost of sending seminarians to college seminary and graduate theology in the major seminary is comparable. To give you an idea of the costs for our seminarians, our budget this fiscal year for 24 seminarians is $1,029,391, which comes to approximately $42,900 per seminarian.
From a theological perspective, we need to support the training of our future priests because we cannot have the Eucharist without priests and, without the Eucharist, we could not carry on the sacramental life of the church as intended by Jesus when he said at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.” We need priests to celebrate Mass, to forgive our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation, to anoint the sick and pray for their healing of body and soul, and to be the spiritual shepherds of Christ’s flock in our parishes.
Our 24 seminarians attend various seminaries. Dave Beagles, whose home parish is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, is in his second year of theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wis. We have two deacons at Mundelein Seminary: Deacon Rob Johnson, from Resurrection Parish in Illiopolis and Deacon Aaron Kuhn from St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy.
There are five of our seminarians at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana: Deacon Mark Tracy, from Holy Family Parish in Mt. Sterling; Peter Chineke, from Nigeria, has been adopted by Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield; Austin Quick, whose home parish is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield; Zach Samples, from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Decatur; and David Myers, from St. Mary Parish in
At Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, we have four seminarians: Michael Meinhart, from St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, Dieterich; Michael Trummer from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Neoga; Dominic Vahling, from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Teutopolis; and Owen Meredith, from Ss. Mary and Joseph Parish, Carlinville.
We have four seminarians at the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) in Rome: Deacon Dominic Rankin, from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Quincy; Michael Berndt, from St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy; Chris Trummer, from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Neoga; and Grant Wilson, from Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville. Of course, the rector of the PNAC is our very own Father Peter Harman, a priest of our diocese from Quincy, who formerly served as pastor of our Cathedral Parish in Springfield.
Our six college seminarians at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis attend their academic classes at Marian University. They are Ryan Kehoe, from St. Aloysius Parish in Springfield; Alex McCullough, from Immaculate Conception Parish in Mattoon; Daniel McGrath, from Sacred Heart Parish in Virden; Troy Niemerg, from St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, Dieterich; Mark Ninmer, from St. Mary Parish in Taylorville; and Mark Vojas, from Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville.
There are also two deacons incardinated in our diocese who are preparing for priesthood as members of the Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf: Deacon Fernando Solomon, is doing a pastoral year at St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, and Deacon Adam Zawadzki is doing his pastoral year at Blessed Sacrament in Springfield.
I am grateful to the parents, families and parishes from which our seminarians come for encouraging and supporting these men in the pursuit of their vocation as priests. These men have shown their willingness to give their lives to Christ in service to the Church. Father Brian Alford, our director for Vocations, will be running the half marathon. Several of our seminarians will be running the full marathon, the half marathon or the 5K in Indianapolis. Please show your support for them with a generous donation to our cause of Running for Priestly Vocations!
May God give us this grace. Amen.