January 13, 2012

Religious Vocations Supplement

Marcotte brothers share family bonds and call to priesthood

Providence Sister Beth Wright works on Dec. 13 at the St. Ann Clinic in Terre Haute, a ministry that provides free medical, dental, psychological, pharmaceutical and counseling services to people without medical insurance. (Photo courtesy of Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods)

Seminarian Dave Marcotte, left, Benedictine Father Severin Messick, seminarian Doug Marcotte and the two seminarians’ parents, Bill and Irene Marcotte, pose on July 19, 2009, at St. Michael Church in Greenfield. In a Mass on that day, Father Severin, at the time the pastor of the parish, blessed Doug as he prepared to leave the U.S. to enroll at the Pontifical North American College in Rome for his theological formation. Father Severin died on Sept. 28, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods)

By Sean Gallagher

Priests often refer to each other as “brother priests” because of the close spiritual bond that brings them together in the priestly life and ministry that they share.

If, God willing, both of them are ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, seminarians Doug and Dave Marcotte will be brother priests to each other in both body and spirit.

They are brothers, age 26 and 24, and grew up in Greenfield, where their parents, Bill and Irene Marcotte, are members of St. Michael Parish.

Doug is in his third year of theological formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and is scheduled to be ordained a transitional deacon on June 23 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Dave is in his second year of theological formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Doug appreciates having his brother as a fellow seminarian because he knows that the call to the priesthood is something that few other people share or can understand on a personal level.

“It’s nice to have somebody that you can talk to and that you can relate with and that you’re so close to who’s having the same experiences as you,” Doug said.

Dave said that both of them being seminarians has deepened their relationship even though they now live thousands of miles apart and have conversations with each other on the Internet via Skype.

“It’s harder in the sense that I can’t talk to him as often or be able to spend time with him,” Dave said. “But the reality is that, even if we’re both priests in the archdiocese, we may be separated by a fair distance, too.

“It’s tough, but in a lot of ways our friendship and relationship is that much better.”

Doug began discerning a possible call to the priesthood when he was a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington. He completed his degree there then became a seminarian in 2007.

When Doug told his brother and his parents about his discernment, Dave was a freshman at IU.

At first, Dave felt no similar call to the priesthood. But over time, he said that his brother’s discernment, combined with his own increased involvement in faith activities at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, led him to broaden his horizons in considering what plans God might have for him.

“I found myself being more and more drawn in to my faith, and to the [Catholic] community both in Bloomington and at home,” Dave said. “That got me thinking a lot more, too, about what possibilities there were for me. I think that’s when I first started to really think that much more about the priesthood.”

Dave started the process to become an archdiocesan seminarian after his sophomore year at IU, and has been in priestly formation since 2008.

Both brothers acknowledged that the guidance of their parents as they were growing up planted the seeds of their vocations.

“My parents always made going to Mass on Sunday a non-negotiable,” Doug said. “So I grew up knowing that it was something important.”

They also helped their sons be open to whatever vocation God might call them to, including the priesthood.

“I always encouraged and talked to them about the priesthood whenever they asked questions,” Irene said. “I think that’s really important because I think sometimes parents kind of downplay that. I think it’s important to answer their questions about [vocations].”

At the same time, Irene acknowledged that having her two children consider the priesthood, with the possibility of thus not having any grandchildren, was challenging.

“It was difficult at first, but now I see how wonderful it is for the both of them to be studying to become priests,” she said. “They just have a peace and happiness about them. And so since they are that way, then I have said to God, ‘I’m very happy. My sons are giving their lives to you. If this is what you want, then this is what I’m going to do. I’m not going to fight it.’ ”

Bill said other parents should encourage their children to consider a priestly or religious vocation, but within limits.

“You can encourage them,” he said. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it. They’re going to have to decide on their own. You can offer them all kinds of assistance or help or guidance. But it’s going to be their ultimate decision.”

Although the relationships within their family have played a significant role in Doug and Dave’s vocational discernment, the brothers valued highly the example of their longtime pastor, the late Benedictine Father Severin Messick, who died on Sept. 28, 2011.

“When I first really started thinking about [the priesthood]—even before I talked to my brother or my parents—he was the first person that I went to to talk about it,” Dave said. “He had a lot of advice to give and a lot of helpful insight every step of the way.”

“When I looked at Father Severin, I always saw a man of great joy,” Doug said. “And I thought to myself that he didn’t seem unhappy at all. In fact, he was very joyful. I think that, more than anything, kind of led me to continue to allow the priesthood to be something that I considered.”

People who know Doug and Dave have hopes that they will follow well in Father Severin’s footsteps.

“I think they’ll both be great priests. I really do,” said Deacon Wayne Davis, who ministers at St. Michael Parish and has known the brothers for much of their lives. “I think Doug is more outgoing by nature than David. David is quiet, but not shy.

“I think they’ll each relate well to people. I think their own personal lives, their piety, will be a tremendous blessing to all who know them.”

Msgr. Anthony Volz has had both brothers minister with him during seminarian summer assignments. He thinks having brothers as seminarians can send a message to other Catholic families.

“That catches people’s attention,” said Msgr. Volz, pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. “It says that in a world where perhaps the spiritual life is de-emphasized, it should be emphasized in family life. It doesn’t mean that everyone’s going to be a priest or a nun. But it means that they’ll be good, faithful Catholics, good, faithful followers of Christ.”

With his ordination to the transitional diaconate only five months away, Doug is already looking forward to the day when he and his brother, Dave, may share an even deeper bond as priests than they have known up to now.

“I certainly look forward to being able to share that experience with my brother, to have that bond with him of not only him being my brother, but really sharing what is most unique about us—the priesthood,” Doug said. “The defining aspects of our lives will be something that we share and that we won’t share with most people.”

(For more information about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, log on to www.HearGodsCall.com.)

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