Seminarians need prayers and encouragement as they continue listening to God and allowing him to reshape their hearts for service to the Gospel.
“It is our obligation to teach what Jesus taught and to remind the Christian faithful of exactly what Jesus did,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight told priests and seminarians of the diocese. “And in word and in action, we conform ourselves to the pattern and likeness of Christ.”
Bishop McKnight offered the Saturday evening Vigil Mass Aug. 5 in Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City, during which he formally admitted seminarian Shane Kliethermes, who begins his theology studies at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago this month, into candidacy for the Priesthood.
“Trusting in the Lord, we will assist you with our charity and our prayers,” the bishop told Mr. Kliethermes.
It was the Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The feastday celebrates how Jesus’s divine glory was revealed to three of his Apostles when they joined him in prayer atop Mount Tabor in the Holy Land.
The Rite of Admission to Candidacy is a pivotal step in the journey to ordained Priesthood. It is celebrated when a seminarian has reached a maturity of purpose in his formation and has demonstrated the necessary qualifications for ordination.
“From this day forward, you must cultivate your vocation in greater depth,” Bishop McKnight told Mr. Kliethermes, a native of Immaculate Conception Parish. “To that end, make particular use of whatever means may be offered to you for your help and support by the ecclesial community entrusted with this task.”
In the presence of the bishop and the people, Mr. Kliethermes expressed his intention to complete his preparation for Holy Orders, and his resolve to fully invest himself to that end, so that he will serve Christ and the Church faithfully.
Joining Bishop McKnight at the altar were Father Anthony Onyeihe, associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish; Father Donald Antweiler, who served as pastor from 2015 to 2022; and Father Paul Clark, vocation director for the diocese.
Mr. Kliethermes and seven of his nine fellow seminarians of this diocese, each preparing to return to studies and formation after spending the summer here, assisted the bishop during the Mass as servers and in various other roles at and near the altar.
In his homily, Bishop McKnight noted that the Transfiguration took place while Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, where he knew he would give up his life and be raised up three days later.
The bishop reminded the people that the Catholic faith is bound up in Jesus’s death and resurrection.
“There is no greater way to reveal the love of God for us than becoming man to die for me, for you!” he stated.
“Our churches are to be a kind of Mount Tabor everywhere throughout the world and in every community,” the bishop said. “This is where we go when life gets rough — the difficulties of our various vocations, the providence of God at work in our lives.”
At Baptism, all believers are incorporated into the sonship of the Son — “that special relationship that the Son of God has with the Father in the inner life of the Holy Trinity,” the bishop noted.
That initiation obligates all who are baptized to treat each other with respect and to recognize the image and likeness of God in every person.
The bishop noted that all who have a priestly vocation share in the same Baptism as the people they’re called to serve.
“From among the baptized, the Church calls men into the ministry of the Priesthood to share in Christ’s prophetic, priestly and royal ministry, in service and in charity, in service to the revelation of God,” he stated.
He said Mr. Kliethermes has completed what is now known as the Discipleship Phase of his priestly formation.
“And now, he is about to enter a new phase, more immediate to ordination, that the Church calls the Configuration Phase of priestly formation,” he said.
As part of the Rite of Candidacy, Mr. Kliethermes stood before the bishop and stated his intention to live according to the Gospel and be strengthened in faith, hope and charity.
“By practicing these virtues, you will grow in a spirit of prayer and in zeal for winning all people for Christ,” Bishop McKnight told him.
The bishop asked God to bless Mr. Klietheremes, “so that he may persevere in his vocation, and clinging to Christ, the Priest, with sincere charity may able to take up apostolic office worthily.”
At the end of Mass, the bishop asked everyone present to “take a good look at the seminarians in the sanctuary” and to continue praying for them.
“One or more of them may serve in your parish someday in the future,” he stated.