Countless encounters that helped shape future priests
by Jessica Langdon
Now that school is back in session, schedules for the seminarians of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas are packed with classes, prayer and studying.
But summer wasn’t exactly a “vacation” for these men who are on the path to the priesthood, either. The seminarians stayed busy working in a wide array of ministries in the archdiocese, where they were a welcome addition to the parishes and ministries they served.
Seminarians in their third and fourth years of theology — those closest to becoming priests — were assigned to different parishes across the region over the summer. There, they worked with parishioners, learned from pastors and got a feel for day-to-day parish life in northeastern Kansas.
From daily Mass to office responsibilities to passing on the faith to children — with just a little time thrown in to relax and visit family — archdiocesan seminarians experienced a lot of life in a few months of summer.
A day in the life
5 a.m. — Jaime Zarse sits down for breakfast with Father Brian Schieber, pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Par – ish in Topeka.
6 a.m. — Deacon Quentin Schmitz prays the office of readings and morning prayer.
6 a.m. — Zarse makes a Holy Hour.
6 a.m. — Deacon Nathan Haverland fine-tunes his homily for the morning’s Mass and says some prayers.
6:30 a.m. — Larry Bowers serves Mass with pastor Msgr. Charles McGlinn at Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood.
7 a.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz begins a Holy Hour, consisting of the rosary, Divine Office and silent prayer.
7 a.m. — After the 6:30 a.m. Mass at Holy Cross Church in Overland Park, Anthony Saiki joins the parish’s Sun – shine Club (open to parishioners ages 55 and older) for breakfast and conversation.
7:15 a.m. — Bowers prays morning prayer with Msgr. McGlinn, Father Shawn Tunink, associate pastor at Curé of Ars, and seminarian Gerard Alba, who is in this third year of theology at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. (Then they cook breakfast for a seminarian who will ride with Bowers to a tour of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.)
7:15 a.m. — Deacon Quentin Schmitz chats with parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park over coffee and doughnuts following Mass, where he served as deacon.
8 a.m. — Deacon Haverland preach – es the homily at the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Matthew Parish, Topeka. “Sometimes I hear people argue that Christianity is too burdensome,” said Deacon Haverland. “ That it has too many rules and guidelines. That it is oppressive and prevents people from being truly free. But, as Jesus says today, his yoke is easy and light. Christianity is only burdensome when we try to cling to something other than the yoke He is offering us.”
8 a.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz digs into his breakfast: “ Bowl of Raisin Bran and glass of OJ.”
8:30 a.m. — Saiki prays morning prayer at the rectory. He often tackles parish projects during the mornings and translates documents between English and Spanish at the office.
8:30 a.m. — After Mass, Adam Wilczak usually listens to news as he checks emails in his office at the rectory at Annunciation Parish in Frankfort.
9 a.m. — Following Mass, Zarse stops for breakfast (his second one of the day!) with Father Nick Blaha, associate pastor at Most Pure Heart of Mary in Topeka.
9 a.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz greets the team, families and kids arriving for a day of fun and faith at Totus Tuus. A five-year-old girl’s summary of the lessons impressed him: “God made all of us.”
9:30 a.m. — Bowers explores a Catholic Charities food pantry.
9:30 a.m. — Daniel Stover observes interviews for a youth minister position at St. Joseph Parish, Shawnee.
9:30-11:15 a.m. — Deacon Haverland delves into the topics brought up during a staff meeting at St. Matthew.
10 a.m. — Deacon Quentin Schmitz and Bowers make a stop at Catholic Charities’ Shalom House, which provides shelter and hospitality for men who are homeless.
10:30 a.m. — Bowers joins others on a tour of Juniper Gardens in Kansas City, Kan., where refugee families plant their own roots in this country by working toward independence through New Roots for Refugees.
10:30 a.m. — Wilczak often builds lessons for vacation Bible school in the mornings. “I am the ‘storyteller,’ where I tell stories from the Gospels, and relate them to the children,” he said.
11:15 a.m. — Deacon Haverland plans for an upcoming youth event.
Noon — Deacon Daniel Schmitz, now driving to visit family, prays the Angelus, stops for lunch, and then hits the road again.
12:30-3:30 p.m. — Deacon Quentin Schmitz checks emails and handles phone duties in the office at Holy Spirit Parish.
1 p.m. — Bowers and John Wissman, business manager at Curé of Ars Parish, plan the annual priest and seminarian gathering.
1 p.m. — With a group of Most Pure Heart of Mary parishioners, Zarse tours Christian art at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. “ My favorite piece was Caravaggio’s ‘Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness,’” said Zarse. “ The image is remarkable — how Caravaggio was able to capture Saint John through this use of light and dark contrast was truly extraordinary. The image is larger than life, captivating, a brief snapshot into a tragic masterpiece.”
1:30-3:30 p.m. — Deacon Haverland visits the homebound.
2:45 p.m. — Stover gathers with a small group of parishioners at the church. The group prays the rosary for peace at this time every day, and then he logs some office time.
3 p.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz finally pulls up at his destination in Branson, Mo. “Arrive, get hugs from all my nieces, spend some time catching up with my siblings and parents.”
3:30-4:30 p.m. — Deacon Quentin Schmitz studies Scripture and prays day – time prayer.
3:30-4:30 p.m. — Deacon Haverland makes plans and preparations for an auc – tion dinner at the parish.
3:45 p.m. — Wilczak’s head turns be – tween two monitors and his fingers fly on the keyboard as he writes his reflection for the next morning’s Mass.
6 p.m. — Bowers and Msgr. McGlinn help families get ready for upcoming baptisms during a preparation class.
6 p.m. — Time for exercise: Deacon Quentin Schmitz gets the wheels turning on the pavement during a 90-minute bike ride.
6 p.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz pauses to pray the Angelus, then heads to dinner — “all 16 of us.”
6:30 p.m. — Zarse savors dinner at June’s Café in Leavenworth (“which I would highly recommend,” he says) with Father Schieber, Father Blaha and company, an outing parishioners purchased at a Hayden High School auction in fall 2011.
7-9 p.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz and family race go-carts and steer bumper cars.
7 p.m. — Parish meetings often demand Saiki’s attention during the evenings. He particularly relished the opportunity to work with the young people of the parish this summer. Lending a hand at vacation Bible school, he introduced kids to the “Saint of the Day.” He also accompanied the youth on a mission trip to Nashville, Tenn. “It was a wonderful way to get to know the parish,” he said. “I have really come to love youth ministry.”
7 p.m. — Wilczak participates in a par – ish council meeting.
9 p.m. — Saiki visits with Holy Cross pastor Father Mike Stubbs. “ He has taught me so much about being a priest in parish life and connecting with people,” said Saiki. “ Everyone at Holy Cross has been so kind and so welcoming to me. I have really enjoyed my time at the parish.”
10-11 p.m. — Stover concentrates on staying in shape at 24- Hour Fitness.
10 p.m. — Deacon Daniel Schmitz winds down with family. “Stay up late talking. . . . It’s one of the few days we are all together.”
10:30 p.m. — Wilczak prays night prayer and turns in for the night, ready to share his reflection with parishioners in the morning