Sunday, 13 June 2021 13:26

A tale of two brothers - Trummer brothers are now both priests for Springfield diocese

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Growing up in the small town of Neoga at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, brothers Christopher and Michael Trummer never dreamed that one day they would both be priests for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Father Chris Trummer, 30, says he thought about it briefly when he was in fourth grade, but Father Michael Trummer, 29, says until he was in college, the priesthood was never on his radar.

Trummer BHowever, it was in the fall of 2013 when unbeknownst to one another, both brothers began speaking with a priest they admired, Father John Titus — who at that time was the chaplain at Eastern Illinois University Newman Center and pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Charleston — about possibly joining the seminary. Separately, they also contacted Father Brian Alford, director of Vocations. At that time both brothers were in their early 20s.

“How did we both end up joining at the same time? Good question!” said Father Michael. “I would say the Holy Spirit and Providence. We both talked to Father John Titus about joining seminary within a week of each other without knowing the other had done that. I don’t remember Father Alford’s reaction, but I do think he was surprised.”

Father Chris tells his version of what happened: “Once I decided to talk to a priest and the vocation director about my interest in seminary, it was a couple of weeks before I found out that Michael was also applying. At the time, I was not living at my parent’s house. However, I lived nearby and spent a good amount of time there. One day, I saw what I thought was my diocesan application to the seminary sitting out on a desk. ‘How did that get there?’ I wondered. I was worried because I had not yet told anyone in my family. Then I saw the name on it — Michael Trummer. I was somewhat surprised, but certainly not shocked.”

Fast forward almost seven years and on June 19, 2020, Father Michael Trummer was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. His brother was ordained to the transitional diaconate the same day. Father Christopher Trummer had his ordination to the priesthood on June 12, 2021.

ChildrenAlthough the brothers entered seminary together, their roads to the priesthood were quite different. “After high school, Michael and I both spent some time working and some time in college. By the time we applied to seminary we had each accumulated about five semesters of college,” explained Father Chris. “However, because I had mostly studied automotive technology and Michael had studied chemistry, he had far more credits that transferred to general courses in our new major, philosophy. As a result, he started a year ahead of me. Initially, I was disappointed that we would not be in the same class. However, once I experienced life at Bishop Simon Bruté, our college seminary in Indianapolis, I was grateful for the extra year of formation and growth.”

Father Michael also attended Bishop Simon Bruté and then studied at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He is now living in Decatur where he parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, chaplain for St. Teresa High School, and associate chaplain at Millikin University.

Father Chris has spent the last several years studying in Rome. He will be helping out at his brother’s parishes this summer and in the fall will return to Rome to complete the second year of a degree called a license in moral theology, at the University of the Holy Cross, which is run by Opus Dei. “I am focusing on bioethics, which studies moral issues related to healthcare and various treatments and procedures,” he said.

Especially when they were first in seminary, the Trummer brothers — with their dark hair and similar features — were often mistaken for one another. “In the past it was harder to tell us apart, depending on our hair, beards, and glasses,” Father Chris said. “The fact that we have lived so far apart for several years has definitely reduced the confusion. They do often assume — naturally — that Michael must be older than me because he was ordained first.”

2021 06 13 Trummer Brothers featureFather Michael added, “Yes, people mix us up often, including our mother!”

Father Michael said although he is a year ahead of his brother, he hasn’t necessarily given him any advice. “I haven’t been able to see him a whole lot since he has studied in Rome. However, we usually call fairly regularly. We probably talk on the phone two to four times a month,” he said. “Once he starts his active ministry I might give him some tips, but time will tell!”

Both men credit their parents, John and Margaret “Bitsy” Trummer, for bringing them up right. They both said that although their parents were excited and supportive of their decisions to enter the seminary, they left it up to their sons to decide about their own futures.

“I cannot overstate the influence my parents have had on me,” said Father Chris. “It would be too simplistic to say that they are devout, though they certainly are. My mother was a cradle Catholic, while my father was baptized and entered the Church when I was 10 years old. Each of them witnessed the importance of God and their faith in different ways, some small, some big — my mother in her loving service and perseverance through some severe trials, my father in teaching us about the faith and in the way he poured himself out to provide for our family without ever expecting anything for himself.”

“They made going to Mass together a real priority,” said Father Michael. “I am grateful to have parents that really ensured the practice of the faith in our household. We didn’t do anything too extraordinary, but even the consistent attending of Mass and prayer was a foundation to live from. The generosity of my parents was also inspiring. My dad worked long night shift hours at UPS, and my mother tirelessly poured herself out for others.”

His brother, Father Chris, said, “By the way my parents loved each other and us kids (Jonny, Chris, and twins Michael and Katrina), even through very difficult times, they taught me the most important lesson in life. It’s one that I could never forget: When you give selflessly to others out of love, you are able to recognize and appreciate the value and beauty of life. Essentially, they showed me living proof of our Lord’s words, ‘Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?’ (Mt 16;25-26).

“Growing up this truth was deeply impressed upon my heart and mind,” Father Chris said. “Especially through my parents’ witness of love and joy, I became totally convinced that living purely for myself would never bring me true meaning or happiness. Once I understood this, the priesthood appeared not only as a possible option, but a powerfully attractive one.”

His brother, Father Michael, agrees. “They both lived so selflessly, which I think made a bigger impact on me than I realize.”