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Men ordained transitional deacons look forward to making Jesus’ love known to others

Four men were ordained for the archdiocese May 7

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski ordained Jacob Braun, Joshua Deters, Ryan Quarnstrom and Jacob Wessel to the transitional diaconate May 7 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The men now enter their final year of formation before ordination to the priesthood. They also enter into the clerical state, and with that comes three promises that are made for the first time: obedience to the bishop, celibacy for the sake of God’s Kingdom and an obligation to pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours.

The four said they are looking forward to their roles as transitional deacons, being witnesses to Christ and bringing others closer to Him through their ministerial service to the Church. They see a familiarity with the story of the resurrection, where St. Mary Magdalen, upon seeing Christ, runs to tell others that she has seen the risen Lord.

“In prayer, my response to my vocation has been that same proclamation. That’s our answer: Because I have seen the Lord. He has been faithful and provided the grace, strength and courage” to respond to His call to the priesthood, said Deacon Ryan Quarnstrom.

“I think about us proclaiming the Gospel and it being boiled down to that simple truth: I have seen Jesus, and I want you to see Him too,” he said. “Because it changes everything.”

Upon ordination, the transitional deacons will be given assignments to assist at parishes in the archdiocese. As deacons, they will be given faculties to preach, so writing homilies during the week will become a new part of the routine. Transitional deacons also become more involved in sacramental-related activities, including marriage prep, RCIA formation, burials and baptisms.

Jacob Braun

deacon_Jacob Braun

Age: 29

First Mass preaching as a transitional deacon: 10 a.m. Mass Sunday, May 8, at Immaculate Conception Parish in Union

Family: Parents, Michael and Maureen; siblings, Darrel, Anna and Rachel

Home parish: Immaculate Conception in Union

Education: Homeschool, East Central College, Missouri S&T, Kenrick-Glennon Pre-Theology Program, bachelor’s in philosophy

The call: Homeschooled from first grade through high school, Braun’s vocation story started at an early age. “I remember being 7 or 8 years old, serving daily Mass for the first time,” he recalled. “I remember being enamored by the liturgy. I loved being up there serving, and the priest there was very holy and prayerful.”

Witnessing great examples of the priesthood throughout his childhood, Braun said the desire for the priesthood grew. But as high school came, so too came a shift in discerning marriage and family.

A student of engineering at Missouri S&T, he began to realize that he was attempting to fulfill his happiness, but within his own means. “It got to the point where I realized I can’t do that,” he said. “I felt an invitation at that time, not necessarily to the seminary, but back to God.” He began to frequent the sacraments more often.

While he inquired with the Vocations Office about the seminary application process, he began praying that God would give him a concrete sign of what to do. While attending Mass at his home parish, Immaculate Conception in Union, the visiting priest said at the end of Mass: “If anyone is looking for a sign they should enter seminary, this is it,” Braun recalled. “My jaw dropped and my face turned red.”

Since entering the seminary, he’s discovered that it’s not just one big sign from God that’s supposed to convince him toward the priesthood. “It’s had to be a continual commitment,” he said “It’s had to be something I renew constantly. The challenges change, the difficulties that weren’t there before arise, and it’s only there where I realize I can’t handle all these things. I realize I have to rely on God.”

Joshua Deters

deacon_Joshua Deters637867707871318118

Age: 
32

First Mass preaching as a transitional deacon: 12:15 p.m. Mass Sunday, May 8, at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville

Family: Parents, Kelly Barban and Stephen Deters

Home parish: St. Joseph in Cottleville

Education: Fort Zumwalt West High School, Missouri State University, Lindenwood University (bachelor’s in economics), Kenrick-Glennon Pre-Theology Program, bachelor’s in philosophy

The call: Deters attended public high school. He was baptized as a Catholic, but that’s where the sacraments ended. As a teenager, he had no interest in attending Mass or the Church.

In college, he was part of a fraternity, but by his third year, he started to grow tired of the lifestyle. “I was in a place where I needed a big change,” he said. So he met a girl at a bar — who began talking to him about Jesus. Deters kept asking questions, and then became active in a Christian group with the girl and her friends.

Around the same time, Deters’ father was growing in his Catholic faith. He invited his son to attend the Catholic Men for Christ conference with him. There was a focus on catechism. And then there was a talk on the Blessed Mother. “It all kind of clicked: that this was the truth,” he said. Deters joined RCIA classes at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, and in 2015, he was fully received into the Church.

Through that experience, he got to know Father Anthony Gerber, who talked to him about his experience in the seminary. Deters became involved at the Newman Center at Lindenwood University, where he had transferred to finish his studies.

The approach was one day at a time, one moment at a time, but Deters eventually felt God was calling him to the priesthood. “It was just staying open to the Lord,” he said. “There’s been a real desire to do God’s will. There’s been a lot of growth and healing, and being around a lot of solid guys (at the seminary) has been a total blessing.”

Ryan Quarnstrom

deacon_Ryan Quarnstrom

Age: 24

First Mass preaching as a transitional deacon: 10:30 a.m. Mass Sunday, May 8, at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville

Family: Parents, Thomas and Stephanie; brother, Nicholas

Home parish: St. Joseph in Cottleville

Education: St. Joseph School in Cottleville, De Smet Jesuit High School, bachelor’s in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College Seminary

The call: The priests at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, along with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominicans), had a direct influence on Quarnstrom’s priesthood vocation.

He described his discernment as “a seed that has been planted and grows over time,” including in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, within communities with solid friends, and the inspiration of people who were placed in his life to help teach and form him.

The sisters who taught him in grade school were always encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He particularly enjoyed serving Mass and putting his energy into religion classes. He also had the examples of good priests, including the pastor, Msgr. James Callahan, and then-associate pastor Father Christopher Martin, who he described as joyful and has a love for the priesthood and the Church.

“They were really the building blocks for a vocation,” Quarnstrom said. The sisters also radiated a certain joy, and “it was a joy that only comes from knowing Jesus and following His will,” he said. “I was captivated by their beauty and the way they spoke about Jesus and the faith and encouraged us to become saints.”

Quarnstrom remained involved with youth group in high school, attended a Come and See retreat at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and helped at Kenrick-Glennon Days as a junior counselor. Those experiences, along with getting to know seminarians from St. Joseph Parish, helped to normalize the idea of the priesthood and further helped him in his discernment.

“Seeing them helped me to ask the question: What does it mean to give everything to Jesus and to live my life completely consecrated and completely given over to the Lord? And to live the radical love that Jesus has for us?” he said.

Jacob Wessel

deacon_Jacob Wessel

Age: 28

First Mass preaching as a transitional deacon: 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses Sunday, May 8, at St. Gianna Parish in Wentzville

Family: Parents, Richard and Marlyn; siblings, Paul, Michael, Rebecca and Emily

Home Parish: St. Gianna Parish in Wentzville

Education:St. John Bosco Homeschool Co-op, bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College

The call: Wessel’s vocation story began at a young age. In the fifth grade, he was introduced to the lives of the saints. Around that time, he and his family began attending a weeknight Mass and holy hour. Inspired by the saints and the holiness he saw in other people, he started to grow in his prayer life.

In the eighth grade, he began homeschooling, and with it came a heightened dedication to attending Mass and growing in his faith. Having attended Kenrick-Glennon Days, a summer camp to introduce young men to the seminary, Wessel said that the priesthood was a “very concrete idea” in his mind.

By his senior year of high school, he realized the priesthood was on his heart. “This thought of giving myself totally to God in this way, and in particular in a way that I could invite other people to that relationship (with God) through giving the sacraments to others,” he said, “it was very attractive to me. I decided I’ve got to give this a chance.”

He left the seminary for a period of two years for additional discernment and personal growth, during which he spent time on a mission team with other young adults. Eventually, he made his way back to the seminary. “The Lord just kept directing me back to the call to celibacy and the call to the priesthood,” he said.

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