May 30, 2014

2014 ordinations: Ready to serve God’s people

Deacon’s vocation takes root, flourishes in parish community

Deacon Daniel Bedel poses for a photo on May 19 at the Marian grotto behind St. John the Evangelist Church in Enochsburg—one of the two campuses of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Decatur County. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Deacon Daniel Bedel poses for a photo on May 19 at the Marian grotto behind St. John the Evangelist Church in Enochsburg—one of the two campuses of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Decatur County. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

ENOCHSBURG—It seems fitting that the road should take a turn into “God’s country” for a meeting with the soon-to-be-ordained priest who loves hunting, writing, playing the fiddle, sharing a good laugh, delivering a thoughtful homily and rooting for the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Pacers.

The tree-lined rural road leading to the small parish church where transitional Deacon Daniel Bedel waits on this sun-splashed spring day winds past a creek, budding farmland and a field of Christmas trees stretching across the rolling, hilly countryside.

At the church, an American flag flutters in the breeze near the entrance. And across the road from the church, a small cemetery—which honors people born as far back as the early 1800s—features a striking image of Christ’s crucifixion towering above a statue of Mary being held by the hands of God.

Here in the midst of “God’s country,” Deacon Bedel asked to meet in the church because it represents the most meaningful setting in his journey to his ordination as an archdiocesan priest on June 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

During the meeting, the valedictorian of his high school class walks to the front left pew of St. John the Evangelist Church—on one of the two campuses of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Decatur County—and kneels in the place where he chose to follow God’s call for him to become a priest.

“By my senior year in high school, I made my decision,” says Deacon Bedel, who is 26. “When I was thinking about what it meant to be a priest, I would come here every morning with three of my siblings. We’d go up to the front left pew, we’d kneel down, and during that time, things became clear about what God wanted me to do.”

The circle will become complete at 10 a.m. on June 8 when he celebrates a Mass of Thanksgiving at this same church.

“I’m very excited about it, and the whole parish is excited about it,” Deacon Bedel says. “This place has a very important significance to me. These are the people who formed me into who I am, who gave me my understanding of the Catholic Church. All of them knew me as a kid. They all have stories of the things I got into. It will be very sentimental. I expect there will be tears.”

Gifts of the mind and the heart

There are also expectations of the priest he will be—a list that includes this insight from one of his best friends, a high school classmate who once challenged Deacon Bedel’s Catholic faith before eventually choosing to become a Catholic partly because of Deacon Bedel.

“He’s got a very nice, welcoming personality,” says Ben Lutterbach. “My wife, Beth, has always said that he’s one of those people who seem very happy and excited, and when you see that, you want to know what makes him so happy and excited. He’s going to draw people in.”

Father Todd Riebe noticed several other gifts in Deacon Bedel during the 10 weeks he helped last summer at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.

“We found in him a man of great intelligence and creativity as was witnessed to in his conversations, his adult faith presentations and his homilies,” says Father Riebe, pastor of St. Mark.

“But his gifts of mind are also combined with wonderful gifts of heart—compassion, generosity, gentle humor and kindness. A familiar refrain around St. Mark has been, ‘Whoever gets Deacon Danny as ‘Father Danny’ is a blessed parish.”

He also has a sentimental side, a streak that shows when he recalls his Grandpa Bedel.

“I loved Grandpa Bedel,” he says. “He played the harmonica, and it was cool. I wanted a harmonica for my ninth birthday, and I wanted to play for him. He had a heart attack and was in the hospital a couple days before my birthday. He passed away the day after my birthday. I never got a chance to play for him, but his love for music flows through our family.”

Deacon Bedel plays piano, organ, violin, guitar and mandolin.

He also enjoys hunting for raccoons, heading into the woods with his family and fellow seminarians.

“And I love sports. I’m a big Pacers fan, a big Colts fan, and I root for both Purdue and IU, which fans of both schools hate about me. And I play basketball.”

All those down-to-earth qualities of Deacon Bedel—during high school, he worked as a dishwasher at the town’s revered Fireside Inn—complement the deep faith he has and wants to share.

“He’ll be able to connect with a lot of people because of the different interests he has,” says his mother, Mary Bedel. “He loves music. He loves reading. He loves hunting. He loves sports. Most of all, he has a strong faith. He has a love for the Church and a love for Christ.”

‘I’m in the right place’

As his ordination nears, Deacon Bedel talks about the priest he hopes to be.

“First and foremost, I hope to be a holy priest, a man of prayer,” he says. “I hope I can implement the creative gifts I have—to be a strong preacher, to use my writing and music to connect with young people.

“I’m really excited. There is a little bit of trepidation—the unknown—but this is what I’ve been waiting for for eight years. Every step of the way has just reaffirmed I’m in the right place.”

His father recalls the change that occurred in Deacon Bedel during his four years at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University, both in Indianapolis.

“When I dropped him off for Bishop Bruté, I thought he was a boy,” says Tom Bedel. “Four years later, I thought he was a man.”

Deacon Bedel agrees: “For anybody, those years of 18 to 22 are very important years. To be in seminary formation, it even compounds that. It just was a period of great growth.”

That growth continued in the past four years at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

“At [Bishop] Bruté, I found I had a talent for creative projects—writing and music. Once I got to St. Meinrad, they gave me the space to build on that. I started a group called The Inklings, which is a group that [J.R.R.] Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had. We’d meet at the local pubs and talk about what we were writing—the poetry, the short stories, the novels. We’d have fun with it.”

He also wrote music, including the “Saint Meinrad Seminary Anthem” that was played during the past two graduations.

“Through those years, whatever we were doing just felt right, that I was in the right place. What really reaffirmed me was once I started giving homilies. That gives me a lot of life.”

So did his 10 weeks of assisting at St. Mark Parish last year.

“That was the best summer of my life,” he says. “I got to do baptisms, a few weddings, and I was able to give homilies. Hopefully, that will be a foretaste of what the priesthood will be like.”

A sense of gratitude

For now, the focus is on being home with his family—“easily the most important thing to me, next to God.”

It’s an emotional time for his parents.

“Sometimes, you wonder how this is happening. Why did God choose my son?” his dad says. “It makes you emotional. I know when he has his first Mass and he holds that host up, I’ll probably start crying. I just never thought my own son would be doing that. It’s above me.”

For Deacon Bedel, the feeling is all around him—a feeling of embrace from the parish community that helped teach him the faith as a child, a feeling of pride from people who believe in deep roots and lasting bonds.

“The people of God are just good,” he says. “The amount of dedication they show and the love they have for their priests is just incredible. I know I’m not making this journey alone. They’ve been there for me all through this. I owe them a big thank you. Hopefully, I can give them a big thank you at my first Mass.”

Most of all, he’s thankful for his vocation.

“I really am looking forward to joining the priesthood. There is just a sense of gratitude for all of this. I’m living the dream.”
 

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


More about Deacon Daniel Bedel

  • Age: 26
  • Parents: Tom and Mary Bedel
  • Home Parish: St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Decatur County
  • Seminary: Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad
  • Favorite scripture verse: “A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5).
  • Favorite saint: St. Joseph
  • Favorite movie: The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara
  • Favorite books: The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Interests: Hunting, writing fiction, playing basketball, rooting for the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts, writing and playing music (piano, organ, violin, guitar and mandolin)

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