Thoughts about priesthood started at age 9

| May 23, 2013 | 4 Comments

DreesDeacon John Drees

Age: 26

Hometown: Shakopee

Home parish: St. Mary of the Purification, Marystown

Parents: John and Marie Drees

Education: Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas

Teaching parish: St. Pius X, White Bear Lake

Pastoral learning experiences: Hospital ministry in Grand Forks, N.D.; deacon summer assignment at Sts. Peter and Paul, Loretto, and St. Thomas the Apostle, Corcoran.

Hobbies: Reading and spending time with family and friends

Favorite book: St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life”

Favorite movie: “Princess Bride”

Person you most admire and why: My father because his example of fatherhood has played such an important part in forming me in how to be a spiritual father.

Thanksgiving Mass: 10 a.m. May 26 at St. Mary of the Purification in Marystown

What led to your looking seriously into the priesthood?
I had first thought about priesthood when I started serving Mass at the age of 9. In middle school, the idea of [being a] priest continued to surface in my mind, but I kept pushing that thought away. To a certain extent, I saw the idea of the priesthood as a threat to fitting in with my peers.

I started looking seriously at the priesthood a couple of months after receiving the sacrament of confirmation.

I was in high school at the time. The Lord showed me that even though I went to Mass and was a practicing Catholic on the outside, I was just going through the motions. I was not living my life as the Lord wanted me to and was rationalizing certain behaviors.

The Lord showed me how far I was from him. I knew something needed to change in my life.

I began to pray daily on my own for the first time and began frequenting the sacrament of penance.

Through prayer and confession, the Lord opened the ears of my heart to his voice.

Shortly thereafter, the Lord presented the priesthood to me. My response was, “Yes, I want to do your will, Lord. If you are calling me to be a priest, that’s what I want to do with my life.”

At around the same time that I was deepening my faith, my home parish received a new priest. His name was Father Charlie Prass, O.M.I. After getting to know him, he mentioned to me after Mass one Sunday, “You would make a good priest.”

I received this as a sign from the Lord that the idea of becoming a priest wasn’t just in my head.

Over the next year and a half, Father Charlie’s words of encouragement helped strengthen my desire to become a priest.

During my senior year of high school, I applied to St. John Vianney College Seminary and entered in the fall of 2005.

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?
I was going to Shakopee High School. I entered the college seminary, St. John Vianney, right after high school.

Were there any reasons why you had not considered the priesthood earlier in your life?
In middle school, I did not look into the priesthood out of a fear of what my peers would think if they found out that I was thinking about priesthood.

Two times in middle school, I had the assignment of doing a report on a career in which I was interested. Both times, I briefly thought of doing a report on the priesthood, but did not have the courage, and chose something [else].

What people and/or experiences were instrumental in identifying and developing your vocation?
My parents, John and Marie, have been very instrumental in helping me to come to know my vocation. Their example of sacrificial love toward my sibling and I is something I treasure, and for which I thank the Lord.

My family was the seedbed of my vocation. Without the family life I had, I don’t think I would have been open to the Lord and his plan for my life in my high school years.

Father John Gilbert, for whom I first served the Mass, helped to plant the seed of a vocation to the priesthood into my mind. His gentle and friendly presence made serving the Mass enjoyable. I looked forward to serving Mass.

Father Prass was instrumental in my vocation, for he was the first person who said to me that I would make a good priest. His encouragement to me to look into the priesthood was a great help.

The priests who serve on the faculty at both St. John Vianney Seminary and St. Paul Seminary have been very instrumental in helping me both to discern my vocation and to deepen my relationship with Christ.

Before entering seminary, I could not have believed that I could have the relationship with the Lord that I have with him now.

I thank them for helping to form me into the man and priest that the Lord is calling me to be.

What excites you most about becoming a priest?
I look forward to a whole host of things.

I can’t wait to offer the sacrifice of the Mass and be God’s instrument of forgiveness in the sacrament of penance.

I look forward to opening up the Word of God daily in preaching and in helping families and individuals develop a deep life in Christ.

How would you like to answer the call to evangelization in your priestly ministry?
I hope to answer the call to evangelize as a priest mainly through strengthening marriages and families so that they can be a witness to the world of the beauty of Christ’s vision of marriage and family.
I want to know the joys and struggles of those whom I am assigned to serve, and find ways to strengthen them in the faith so that they can permeate the secular world with the Gospel.

What encouragement and/or advice do you have for young men who may be considering the priesthood?
Do not be afraid to tell a priest that you are considering the priesthood. He will be able to help shed light on your thoughts about priesthood and can be a great source of encouragement if the Lord is calling you to be a priest.

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Category: Ordinations