Father Zimmerman hopes to build on predecessor’s efforts

by Kara Hansen

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s said that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

But Father Mitchel Zimmerman is hoping that something more valuable still will result from his labor of love — vocations.

“I really love being a priest. I’m very grateful for my vocation and have a lot of joy and energy for the priesthood,” said Father Zimmerman.

That passion for the priesthood — and for encouraging others to consider it — made him an ideal candidate for the position he now holds as the newly appointed vocations director for the archdiocese.

“I think Father Mitchel’s involvement with Project Andrew really shows his great leadership skills,” said Msgr. Michael Mullen, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and director of seminarians for the archdiocese. “He has a great ability to welcome, invite and encourage young men to come and consider the priesthood. He’s very good at active outreach and inviting others to consider their vocation.”

Previously, Father Zimmerman was the associate pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, his first assignment after his ordination in 2004. He also served as chaplain at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park. He says he will miss both places.

“I really loved my years at St. Michael’s and Aquinas, and it’s been really hard to leave. The people have been so great to me,” he said.

Father Zimmerman is looking forward to his new position, though, which will have him meeting and working with people across the archdiocese, as well as providing the opportunity to encourage young people discerning a religious vocation.

“There are a lot of great things that can happen as a result of considering a vocation. Even if that end result isn’t becoming a priest, it’s going to be a positive experience no matter what,” said Father Zimmerman.

Father Zimmerman is inheriting a position held for the past six years by Father Brian Schieber, who is now pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary in Topeka.

“We have a wonderful vocations program already in place that Father Brian has developed,” said Father Zimmerman. “My goal is to continue the entire program and keep it going as it already is. I want to continue doing good things and take advantage of the work that is already done.”

While serving as vocations director, Father Zimmerman will live in residence at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas, where he will also assist with the center’s vocations program. The seeds of Father Zimmerman’s own vocation were sown at the St. Lawrence Center — first as a student, and then for three years after graduation, as a member of the staff.

While there, he got to know then-director Msgr. Vince Krische, who encouraged his vocation to the priesthood.

The impact a faith-filled role model can have on others is not lost on Father Zimmerman, who credits several priests with inspiring and supporting him in his call to the priesthood.

“Monsignor Vince Krische gave me a beautiful vision of what the church and the priesthood is all about. I really get a lot of joy and optimism from following his example,” said Father Zimmerman.

“I’m also very grateful for the friendship and support Father Bill Porter and Father Bob Pflumm have given me,” he added. “Their support has really helped me stay grounded.”

In turn, Father Zimmerman hopes to offer that kind of encouragement to other young people.

“I think as Father Mitchel reflects on his own journey to the priesthood, he will have great wisdom and experience to share,” said Msgr. Mullen. “It takes time and perseverance to discern a vocation, and I think he will be a good person to meet with and walk with as young men consider making a commitment.”

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