May 23, 2014

2014 ordinations: Ready to serve God’s people

Vocational journey takes deacon from bagel shop to World Youth Day

Transitional Deacon Timothy Wyciskalla incenses the congregation at the closing Mass for the National Catholic Youth Conference at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Nov. 23, 2013. He will be ordained a priest on June 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Transitional Deacon Timothy Wyciskalla incenses the congregation at the closing Mass for the National Catholic Youth Conference at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Nov. 23, 2013. He will be ordained a priest on June 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Transitional Deacon Timothy Wyciskalla’s journey of vocational discernment began in a bagel shop on the south side of Indianapolis.

It took on speed while adoring the Eucharist on a field outside of Cologne, Germany, with then-newly elected Pope Benedict XVI and hundreds of thousands of other teenage Catholics from around the world.

Then its course became more set in place as he entered into priestly formation during the past eight years at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

That journey will reach its culmination on June 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis when Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin will ordain Deacon Wyciskalla and three other transitional deacons to priesthood for service to the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Getting outside of a ‘Catholic bubble’

Born in 1987, Deacon Wyciskalla grew up as a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. His parents, Mike and Linda Wyciskalla, made sure that he and his three siblings always attended Mass on the weekend.

They were also active in the parish in other ways, being involved in liturgical ministries and Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sports teams in the Indianapolis South Deanery faith community.

“I always kind of considered St. Barnabas kind of the center of our whole life,” said Deacon Wyciskalla.

With St. Barnabas being a magnet for the family, they also appreciated its longtime pastor, Father Joseph McNally, who died in 2012.

“I had a pretty strong example of the priesthood and of the good a priest can do,” said Deacon Wyciskalla of his boyhood pastor.

After his sophomore year in high school, Deacon Wyciskalla stepped out of what he called his “Catholic bubble” when he was hired at a bagel shop on the south side of Indianapolis. None of his co-workers were Catholic, and some of them challenged him about his faith.

“Because I was a stubborn kid that liked to argue, I figured I had to be right,” he said. “That was probably the catalyst for me practicing Catholicism as a teenager and as a young adult.”

The summer before his senior year at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Deacon Wyciskalla began to seriously consider if God might be calling him to the priesthood.

He took those thoughts and prayers with him on a World Youth Day pilgrimage that summer to Cologne, Germany. The night before the closing Mass of the event, Deacon Wyciskalla reached a turning point in his discernment as he prayed in adoration of the Eucharist with Pope Benedict and hundreds of thousands of other Catholic teenagers.

“It was actually during the holy hour the night before the closing Mass,” Deacon Wycsikalla said. “That was the first real time where I thought, ‘I’m going to at least look into this.’ ”

Community builder

In the fall of 2006, Deacon Wyciskalla enrolled at Bishop Bruté just two years after it had been established.

Father Robert Robeson, Bishop Bruté’s rector, said that Deacon Wyciskalla helped to build up the community in the newly formed seminary.

“Tim is the guy who would remember and tell the stories of the seminary over and over again,” Father Robeson said. “He had a way of helping guys to find humor and find joy in the seminary experience by telling the stories.”

Benedictine Father Denis Robinson, Saint Meinrad’s president-rector, saw the same qualities in Deacon Wyciskalla during his final four years of priestly formation.

“He’s very sociable,” Father Denis said. “But it’s not just being social. He’s building community.

“He gathers various kinds of people together, and is able to offer a vision for moving forward in the community in a way that is not just about being sociable. He’s a visionary in that sense.”

At the same time, Father Denis said that Deacon Wyciskalla challenged his fellow seminarians at Saint Meinrad in a way that invited them to grow.

“He encourages people to do their best and to be truly a part of the community in a way that doesn’t threaten, but is open and inviting,” Father Denis said. “And I think he’ll transfer those skills very nicely to a parish.”

For his part, Father Robeson is anxious to see Deacon Wyciskalla ordained a priest.

“I can’t wait to have Tim as a brother priest because I think he kind of naturally wants to serve,” Father Robeson said. “He has a natural desire to serve others, and to help other people flourish, and to come to know Christ more fully, but in a very natural, kind and charitable way.”

Deacon Wyciskalla said that getting to know during the past eight years other priests who serve in central and southern Indiana has helped him in his discernment and priestly formation.

“We have a particularly healthy presbyterate in our archdiocese,” he said. “Seeing a lot of happy priests and priests doing ministry not only gave you sort of an example, but also a goal to strive for. And it showed us the hope that was out there of what would come after seminary.”

Becoming a parish priest

It has been through parish ministry assignments during his eight years of priestly formation that Deacon Wyciskalla has come to know the presbyterate and received a confirmation of his vocation.

Over that time, he has served in Christ the King Parish and St. Joseph Parish, both in Indianapolis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany, St. Boniface Parish in Fulda, St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg and St. Meinrad Parish in St. Meinrad.

“Being in the seminary is focused on the classes, the liturgical calendar and your spiritual life,” Deacon Wyciskalla said. “Actually being out in a parish puts all of that into perspective. If I had never had those experiences, I wouldn’t really have the perspective and the preparedness that I have to go be a priest in them.”

When he is ordained and begins to minister in archdiocesan parishes, Deacon Wyciskalla said he wants to “provide a bridge for people to encounter Christ, not just in the liturgy, but in everyday [life].”

He sees the celebration of the Eucharist as being a special way of building those bridges.

“When I think about being a priest, what excites me more than anything else is celebrating the Mass,” Deacon Wyciskalla said. “I see the priesthood as integrally tied to the Eucharist. It’s the center of who I am.”

Deacon Wyciskalla will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 5 p.m. on June 7, his ordination day, at St. Barnabas Church. Father Denis will be the homilist at the Mass.

His mother, Linda, is eager with anticipation for that special day.

“We’re just so excited,” she said. “I can’t begin to say how proud we are and happy for him. I know he’s going to have a wonderful life. And that’s all you can hope for your kids.”

Deacon Wyciskalla shares that excitement about his ordination and Mass of Thanksgiving.

“If you really think about it, that’s been the goal for the past eight years now,” he said. “It’s humbling, but an extremely exciting prospect for me.”

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


More about Deacon Timothy Wyciskalla

  • Age: 27
  • Parents: Mike and Linda Wyciskalla
  • Home Parish: St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis
  • Seminary: Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad
  • Favorite Scripture verse: The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
  • Favorite saint: St. Thomas More
  • Favorite prayer: Eucharistic adoration
  • Favorite movie: The Godfather Part II
  • Hobbies: Listening to music, especially classic rock, and watching movies

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