Upcoming Events View All
23
30
St. Vincent de Paul, Dutzow, Annual Dinner Auction

Saturday, 07/30/2022 at 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM

8
Nov 8 FFE Eco-Speaker

Tuesday, 11/08/2022 at 6:30 PM

Two men ordained for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Fathers Donald Morris, Eugene Schaeffer ordained May 28

Two men ordained to the sacred priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis were called upon to model humility, relying on God and His grace, as they bring the Gospel message to the world.

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski conferred the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Fathers Donald Morris and Eugene Schaeffer May 28 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Both men had a calling to ordained ministry from an early age; however, they had completely different paths to the priesthood. Father Morris, 27, was finished with his second year of college when he decided to enter Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Father Schaeffer, 57, spent 14 years serving as a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In 2019, he entered St. Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, for his priestly formation.

Sharing the Gospel as part of the sacred priesthood comes with great privilege and responsibility, Archbishop Rozanski said in the homily. The prophet Jeremiah, mentioned in the first reading, was reluctant because of his own perceived inabilities, yet God assured Jeremiah He would give him the words to share His message.

“Humility is essential for the priesthood in order to accompany people on their journey,” the archbishop said, adding, “for they have much to teach us as we seek to minister to them.”

Turning to prayer and the sacraments helps to “ensure that we are preaching Christ crucified and risen solely for the sake of the salvation of God’s people,” Archbishop Rozanski said.

The archbishop also called on the men to lead the faithful to God, in the example of the Good Shepherd, “not to be served, but to serve others, and to seek and save what was lost,” he said.

Father Morris was assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Washington and Father Schaeffer was assigned to Holy Redeemer Parish in Webster Groves.

Rite of Ordination

At the beginning of the rite of ordination, Father Brian Fallon, vocations director for the archdiocese, stood before the archbishop and testified to the candidates’ worthiness for ordination. Afterward, the candidates declared their willingness to undertake the responsibilities of the priesthood, as well as obedience to the archbishop and his successors.

One of the highlights of the rite is the Litany of Supplication, also known as the Litany of Saints, in which the men lie prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary, and the congregation prays for the intercession of the saints for God’s grace and mercy for those to be ordained.

The archbishop also imposes hands on the head of each ordinand, conferring the power of the Holy Spirit through a prayer of consecration. All priests at the Mass also take turns laying hands on these candidates, symbolizing that they are being ordained into the presbyteral college of the local Church. The archbishop then says the prayer of ordination, asking for each man to be configured to the person of Christ.

Afterward, the new priests are invested with the stole and chasuble, the vestments of the priest. The archbishop anoints the hands of each man with the sacred chrism oil, which symbolizes the priest’s participation in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrifices of his hands.

Father Donald Morris

Age: 27

Family: Parents, Larry and Mary Ann Morris, and the late Madonna Morris; sisters, Renee Hill and Maya Morris

Home parish: St. Francis of Assisi in Oakville

Education: St. Gabriel the Archangel (Kindergarten-4th grade); St. Katharine Drexel (5th-8th grade); Northwest High School; Rockhurst University (2 years); bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; master of arts in theology and master of divinity, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

First Mass as a priest: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Oakville

The call: Pope Benedict XVI once described the growing problem of secularization as an “eclipse of God.” As a priest, Father Morris said he has a strong desire to bring people closer to the idea that there is something bigger out there than themselves. “God created us with a soul and with a spirit, and there’s a whole spiritual world and a life of grace that the Lord wants to invite us into,” he said.

The seeds of a priestly vocation were planted early in his childhood, first by the late Bishop Robert Shaheen, his pastor at St. Raymond Maronite Church, who encouraged him to think about the priesthood. “He would put his vestments on me after Mass and make comments such as ‘this will be you one day,’” Father Morris recalled.

The idea of the priesthood persisted on and off all the way through college. In his second year at Rockhurst University, Father Morris found himself asking God in adoration: “‘If you tell me your will, I’ll do it.’ For the first time, I heard God’s voice clearly say in my heart: ‘You already know my will for you.’” He realized if he didn’t give the seminary a shot, he would have been cheating himself and God.

Entering the priesthood at a time of great change for the Archdiocese of St. Louis — with the All Things New strategic pastoral plan — also presents a great opportunity, Father Morris said. “It’s unclear what the future of the Church in St. Louis will look like in the next three or four years,” he said. However, he is hopeful that “we re-embrace evangelization in a way that actually utilizes all of the resources and infrastructure that we have. The opportunity is for us to do it more — for us to dive deeper, for us to engage in a more spiritual way the truth of our faith and the saving graces of Christ.”

In his seminary formation, Father Morris said he’s grown in the sacraments, a daily prayer life and even learning how to preach (“I didn’t expect to love preaching as much as I do,” he said). But he said the greatest joy has been growing deeper in the truth that Christ has set for him, he said. “He’s equipped me with grace and has called me to a mission — a mission to be His priest in His Church,” he said.

Father Eugene Schaeffer

Age: 57

Family: Mother, Kathryn Kennelly; daughters, Brittany Hanson and Amanda Schaeffer; grandchildren, Kynareth and Dexter

Home parish: St. Joseph in Cottleville

Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University); eight years of formation with the permanent diaconate program for the Archdiocese of St. Louis; master’s degree in divinity from St. Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts

First Mass as a priest: 12:15 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at St. Joseph Church in Cottleville. Deacon Allen Boedeker, who anticipates being ordained to the priesthood in 2023, will serve as a deacon at Father Schaeffer’s first Mass.

The call: Father Schaeffer often describes his vocation story as something that slowly unfolded over time. “I didn’t have a burning bush moment,” he quipped.

He attended high school seminary at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary-North, but paused his discernment there. He went off to college, eventually starting a career. He was married and had two daughters, who are now in their 20s, both of whom have been supportive of their father’s decision to enter the seminary.

Father Schaeffer was employed in health care IT for nearly 30 years, mostly as a leader of application developers and business analysts. After he and his wife divorced, he became more active in his parish, All Saints in St. Peters. He also served as a teacher with the Parish School of Religion. Someone suggested that he consider the permanent diaconate, and several years after his annulment was finalized, he entered the diaconate program. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2007 and has served his entire diaconate at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville.

The possibility of the priesthood re-emerged during a conversation with his spiritual director, Father Mark Chrismer, who helped him research seminary programs that focus on older vocations. The two came upon Pope St. John XXIII in Weston, which is dedicated to the formation of older seminarians, typically 30 years of age and older.

Father Schaeffer sees his response to God’s call to the priesthood as a “humbling of self and a giving myself up to the people of God and to serve them in a way that the archbishop and the Church feels is best to serve.”

A deacon is ordained to serve, and a priest is ordained to shepherd, he said, adding that service is rooted in everything that an ordained minister does. The diaconate gives a man the heart of a servant that he carries with him into the priesthood.

“There’s wisdom in the fact that you’re ordained a deacon before you’re ordained a priest,” he said. “My period of transition is just longer.”

The journey toward the priesthood has been a pursuit of peace and calm, something that the world so desperately needs today, Father Schaeffer said. One of his favorite sayings is: “where peace is, there Christ is.”

As a priest, he sees his mission as bringing unity and a sense of welcome to others, while holding to the truths of the Church. We also must learn how to seek forgiveness from God, through the sacrament of reconciliation, so that we can forgive others.

“Approaching God who loves us immensely without limit … and asking for His mercy and being forgiven, it gives us a sense of calm when we leave that sacrament, a sense of grace. And that grace helps us be that calming presence in other people’s lives,” he said.

Recent Articles Module

Other Recent Steadfast in Faith Articles View All

From the Archive Module

Two men to be ordained for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of St Louis 7636

Must Watch Videos

Now Playing

    View More Videos