November 6, 2015

Vocations Supplement

Seminarian looks forward to empowering the faith of the laity

Archdiocesan seminarian Jeffrey Dufresne, right, assists at an April 11 deacon ordination Mass at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, left, was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Dufresne, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, currently receives priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

Archdiocesan seminarian Jeffrey Dufresne, right, assists at an April 11 deacon ordination Mass at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, left, was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Dufresne, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, currently receives priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

By Sean Gallagher

Seminarian Jeffrey Dufresne knew in his heart he was a priest long before he even considered entering formation for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

He wasn’t delusional. He just had a sharp awareness of and a high value for the common priesthood which all Christians share by virtue of their baptism.

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council more than 50 years ago noted in the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (“Lumen Gentium”) that all the faithful offer spiritual sacrifices in the world to God in the way of life to which they have been called. “They … exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity” (#10).

Dufresne was led to this awareness while growing up in Dayton, Ohio, in a family that deeply appreciated its Catholic faith.

“Some of my earliest memories are going to Mass with my family, even when I was 3 or 4 years old,” said Dufresne. “The Sunday liturgy was always a constant in our family life, which is an important component of growing up in the Church and being able to hear God’s call to a vocation.”

The education he received at Chaminade-Julienne (CJ), a Catholic high school in Dayton, also helped him enter more deeply into his faith.

Dufresne said that his religion classes, the way service was integrated into the life of the school on an almost daily basis, and the good example given to him by his teachers and campus ministers led him “on a search for the radical Christian life.”

By the time Dufresne graduated from high school in 2008, he was convinced where God wanted him to live out this deep life of faith.

“My experience at CJ—being able to think and to study, learning how to pray a little more deeply and learning how to live out the Christian life—really led me to want to serve the Church as a lay pastoral minister,” he said.

So he enrolled that fall at Marian University in Indianapolis as part of its San Damiano Scholars Program, which forms college students for lay ministry in the Church.

Receiving this formation alongside other San Damiano scholars helped Dufresne become a pastoral leader among his peers in the broader Marian community.

“We brought that common formation to the greater community,” he said. “I really felt like that was an opportunity to have instilled in us a mindset for lay pastoral ministry, to learn how to be leaven in a community.”

Mark Erdosy, executive director the San Damiano Scholars Program, witnessed the leadership that Dufresne exercised personally.

“Jeff is very passionate about his faith,” said Erdosy. “He is equally passionate about ministering with people and helping connect them with Christ. … Jeff is a very compassionate person who will make time for people because he wants to be Christ’s presence for others. It’s who he is called to be.”

As a student at Marian, Dufresne grew in his understanding of God’s particular call to him. He began to sense that God might be calling him to service, not in the common priesthood of the baptized, but in the sacramental priesthood.

He first got an inkling of this call while praying before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration during his freshman year at Marian.

“Sitting there in prayer and in silence, I really felt a sense that God was calling me to discern the priesthood and to think about being a priest,” Dufresne said. “I kind of had my heart so much set on lay ministry, but also on being a husband and a father, that I tried to put that off to the side for a few years. While I still prayed, that voice kind of made me skittish.”

Indeed, it wasn’t until the spring of 2013—a year after he had graduated from Marian—that he really responded to that call and began the process to affiliate with the archdiocese as a seminarian.

Part of what particularly led him to become a seminarian was seeing the sacramental leadership of the chaplain of Bishop Fenwick High School in Franklin, Ohio, where Dufresne was serving as the interim director of campus ministry.

“As I reflected on how fulfilling my role and ministry was for me, I realized that it wasn’t as fulfilling as it could be,” he said. “I really started to see that, although I was doing my best in so many ways to live out the priesthood of the baptized, it was really the sacramental priesthood that I was being called to and that I really had a desire to live out by being able to bring God’s presence, his healing, his love and his grace to people in the sacraments.”

Although he grew up in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Dufresne chose to become a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in part because of his experience of the life of faith at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

He valued it so much that he would drive two hours to attend Sunday Mass while serving at Fenwick High School. The worshipping community there was for him “full of life” and “very hospitable.” And he valued getting to know the “two joyful and passionate priests” who served there, Father Todd Goodson, its pastor, and Father Dustin Boehm, its associate pastor at the time.

“His personality is a bridge,” said Father Boehm of Dufresne. “He’s a guy that, as soon as you meet him, you kind of ask the question, ‘Wow, what’s behind his joy?’ And he makes no bones about it. His personality clearly gains a lot of life from the Gospel and from Jesus Christ.”

As he continues in his formation for ordained ministry and looks forward to possible life and ministry as a priest, Dufresne hopes to be able to help the faithful whom he would serve to embrace their common priesthood.

“The mission of the sacramental priesthood is to empower the laity through the sacramental life to live their vocation to transform the world where they are,” he said. “That spiritual leadership that is rooted in the sacramental life is what drew me to the priesthood in the first place.”

Dufresne looks forward to helping lay Catholics to powerfully live out their faith in so many areas of life—as spouses, parents, in the work world and in the broader community.

“What I’ve realized over time is that there are many ways to live out the radical Christian life that I was looking for, and was passionate about finding when I was younger,” Dufresne said. “We’re all members of the one body of Christ in the Church by baptism.”
 

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


More about seminarian Jeffrey Dufresne

  • Age: 26
  • Parents: Michael and Jennifer Dufresne
  • Home parish: St. Monica in Indianapolis
  • Education: Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio; Marian University in Indianapolis; Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad
  • Favorite Scripture passage: Hosea 11:1-4
  • Favorite saint: St. Lawrence
  • Favorite author: Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson
  • Favorite prayer or devotion: the Jesus Prayer
  • Hobbies: Fishing, playing the guitar, golf

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