Local Parishes Religious life

‘This is what you should be doing’

by Joe Bollig

Some guys grow up wanting to be a priest. Not Andrew Strobl.

By the time he was a college student, Strobl could best be described as a “hit-and-miss” Catholic. Sometimes he made it to Mass, and sometimes he didn’t. It depended on whether or not he was at a debate tournament.

Strobl was at a Catholic College

Student Convention one year when he ran into Father Brian Schieber, former chaplain at Roeland Park’s Bishop Miege High School, from which Strobl graduated.

“You know, I always wanted to talk to you about becoming a priest,” Father Schieber told him.

Strobl was stunned. He had never thought it was an option. At the time, he was barely practicing his faith.

When he rejoined his friends, he told them about his encounter. You really ought to consider it, they told him. You’d make a good priest.

Deacon Andrew Strobl will be ordained a priest by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at 10:30 a.m. on May 23 at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa. With God’s help, he will be a good priest.

“That’s the crazy thing about discernment,” said Deacon Strobl. “Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget it’s the church that discerns.”

While he was growing up, his family belonged to St. Peter Parish in Kansas City, Mo. He went to the parish school, and then to Bishop Miege. While there, he discovered he had a talent for debate. That talent won him a scholarship to Washburn University in Topeka. He competed against — and beat — teams from much larger schools.

The problem was that he missed Mass every tournament weekend.

During Advent of his sophomore year, a friend invited Strobl to go to confession with him.

“It was the first time I’d chosen to go to confession on my own,” said Deacon Strobl. “It was also the first time I told the priest everything. I didn’t hold anything back. I gave it all over to Christ. And at that moment, I felt this deep hunger to know, learn about, and love God more.”

He began to devour books about the Catholic faith, visiting Catholic Web sites, watching EWTN and listening to Catholic radio. He began to pray more and became involved in the Washburn Catholic Campus Center. It was about that time that he encountered Father Schieber at the convention.

During his junior year, he went to Mass and heard a retired archdiocesan priest give a homily.

“It was while he was giving the homily that I experienced this clarity like I never experienced before,” said Deacon Strobl. “It was a sense of ‘this is what you should be doing.’ Once I got that clarity, this freedom also hit me.”

He went home and told his mother, without any hint or prior warning, about his new vision for life.

“Hey, Mom, I’m going to become a priest!” he told her.

Needless to say, she was shocked, but quickly recovered and supported him from then on. Strobl contacted Father Schieber and began to visit seminaries with other young men discerning vocations. He joined a Samuel Group led by the Apostles of the Interior Life at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center.

Finally, he asked his debate coach if she could guarantee he wouldn’t miss Mass while at tournaments. When she couldn’t, he quit the squad and gave up his scholarship.

He never looked back. Nor does he have any regrets about choosing the priesthood.

“I’m looking forward to being a confessor,” said Deacon Strobl. “Confession played such a huge role in my life. Having those floodgates of grace open up — being so undeserving of love but needing it so badly — is an experience I can’t wait to offer to others.”

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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