Daniel Stover had to piece together God’s plan for him
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The path to the priesthood is, for most men, suprisingly gradual.
No sudden voice from the heavens. No miracle sign. No Damascus Road experience à la St. Paul.
This is the way it was for Deacon Daniel B. Stover. The more puzzle pieces he placed, the clearer the picture became, thus bringing vocational clarity.
“It was gradual, like, ‘I could be happy with this life,’” said Deacon Stover. “There wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will ordain Deacon Stover and three other men to the priesthood at 10:30 a.m. on May 23 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
“Deacon Daniel Stover has a great heart for the priesthood and I am confident that God has formed him to be a great priest,” said Father Scott Wallisch, the archdiocesan vocations director. “He is a man of prayer and is also very knowledgeable about the faith and the teachings of the church.”
Deacon Stover, 31, was born in Topeka, one of two children of Dennis and Barbara Stover. He and his younger sister Rachel were raised in Silver Lake. After his mother died in 2001, his father married Joyce Buseman. The family belonged to Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.
“We always went to Mass at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish and attended religious education there,” said Deacon Stover.
Deacon Stover went to public schools in Silver Lake and didn’t give a thought to a vocation to the priesthood until his high school librarian, Mary Lamar, asked him if he’d ever considered it.
“She asked if I’d ever thought about becoming a priest, and I tell people ‘no’ because I hadn’t,” he said.
Life went on. He graduated from Silver Lake High School in 2002 and went to the University of Kansas, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 2006. While he was at KU, he took some catechetical classes at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center there. He also served and was a lector at Mass.
In his junior and senior years, he was a sacristan. But after graduation, he went to work for Security Benefit in Topeka, doing annuity administration. It was great, but . . . “I thought that, if I’m going to be working, I’ve got to be working for something more than the sake of working,” said Deacon Stover.
Those seeds of discernment planted during his college years began to sprout. “I felt like I had to make a decision about what I wanted for my life — look for a wife and have a family, or consider the priesthood,” said Deacon Stover.
He kept in touch with the priests he’d come to know in high school and college — Fathers Vince Krische, Steve Beseau and Bill Bruning — and talked with guys who went to the seminary.
During an hour of eucharistic adoration at Most Pure Heart, he read a book by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, entitled “The Priest Is Not His Own.” That got him thinking — and acting. He began serious discerning: going on retreats, taking to priests, taking spiritual direction, going on seminary visits and actively working on deepening his prayer life.
It seemed clear what his next step should be — the seminary. His father said, “OK, that sounds like a plan.” One of his best friends from KU said, “Daniel, nobody is going to be surprised.” His boss said, “Oh, you’re leaving us?” Deacon Stover entered the University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein Seminary), near Chicago, in 2008. He was ordained a deacon on May 17, 2014, by Archbishop Naumann at Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood.
Having close friendships with other seminarians is something he’ll always treasure, as well as some of the experiences he had while in the seminary — World Youth Day, visiting Catholic Relief Services at work in Ethiopia, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and an internship at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
“Father Michael Hawken, who is pastor there, has been a very good friend and mentor,” he said.
Father Wallisch is looking forward to Deacon Stover’s priestly ordination.
“He has a very good liturgical sense, and he has a deep love for the Mass,” said Father Wallisch. “He has a desire for worship to be something beautiful and pleasing to Our Lord.”
But he’s also a people person, said the vocation director.
“He has a good sense of humor and is very personable, with a heart ready to serve God’s people,” said Father Wallisch. “I have encountered several young persons who were inspired in their vocational journey by their interactions with Deacon Daniel.”
Deacon Stover is really looking forward to administering the sacraments and being a part of a vibrant Catholic community. “I am excited to be able to preach and baptize,” he said. “Assisting with baptisms as a seminarian, I have always found the prayer to be deeply moving.
“It will be exciting to bring those new babies into the church.”