October 28, 2016

2016 Vocations Supplement

Seminarian grows in faith during hard times in vocational journey

Archdiocesan seminarian Michael Dedek prepares the altar for an Aug. 9 Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The liturgy was part of the annual end-of-the summer archdiocesan seminarian convocation in which men in priestly formation for the Church in central and southern Indiana spend time together before returning to their respective seminaries. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archdiocesan seminarian Michael Dedek prepares the altar for an Aug. 9 Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The liturgy was part of the annual end-of-the summer archdiocesan seminarian convocation in which men in priestly formation for the Church in central and southern Indiana spend time together before returning to their respective seminaries. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

According to his mother, Mary Dedek, archdiocesan seminarian Michael Dedek has “always been very close to God.”

That closeness was nurtured from his early years in grade school until he became a seminarian after two years of college. And in the more than three years he’s been involved in priestly formation, his bond with God has become more intimate still.

But the path to this deep relationship has involved its own hardships where Dedek could have easily turned away from his faith. Instead, he embraced it all the more.

“As I grew up, I had the sense that I wanted to do what God wanted me to do with my life,” said Dedek, who is in his first year of theological formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology at St. Meinrad. “Over time, I really fell in love with the faith. I never wanted to be anything but Catholic.”

Dedek grew up as the oldest of four in Monroe County. He and his family were members of

St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, where he and his mother are still parishioners.

He experienced the importance of his faith as early as second grade when he was a student at St. Charles’ school and was absolved of his sins for the first time in the sacrament of penance.

“I remember an incredibly peaceful feeling after going to confession for the first time,” Dedek said. “I felt so happy. It was the first time that I felt a peaceful feeling that can only come from God.”

That was a timely gift for Dedek, because it was around that time that his parents divorced. His mother then had to care for him and his three younger siblings by herself.

“I don’t think it challenged my faith, but it certainly was a challenge to me as a person,” he said. “It helped me to learn how to turn to God during those difficult moments. It helped me to learn how to trust him.

“A big part of growing up was coming to terms with the divorce. It made me stronger and helped me become the man I am today.”

Among her many responsibilities in caring for her children during this time, Mary Dedek took seriously her duty to pass on the faith to them, especially making sure they went to Mass on Sundays.

And in the hard times, she would encourage them to turn to prayer.

“When we would have troubles that we couldn’t figure out, I’d always tell them to pray, maybe to St. Joseph,” Mary Dedek said.

Despite the challenges he had to face at a young age, Dedek was firm enough in his faith that he expressed a desire to be a priest one day—something he said that his mother affirmed but let develop on its own.

“She was very supportive of that,” Dedek said. “And I don’t think she ever forgot about that, even in the times when I forgot about that.”

As he became a student at Bloomington North High School in Bloomington, Dedek remained interested in his faith, something that Father Michael Keucher noticed when he helped lead a confirmation preparation class that Dedek was taking in his freshman and sophomore years.

At the time, Father Keucher was a seminarian and a member of St. Charles.

“He’d always have all the answers in confirmation class,” said Father Keucher, associate pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “He had a passion for the faith and for the Lord that kind of spread to the other people in the class.”

As the years went on, Dedek became more involved in the parish, especially assisting in liturgies as an altar server. Father Keucher, who often came back to St. Charles for important Masses to serve as a master of ceremonies, saw how the faith continued to grow in his former student.

“I remember after one Easter Vigil that I told him, ‘Michael, you need to go to seminary. I think you’d be a very good priest,’ ” Father Keucher recalled. “This was probably at about 12:30 in the morning and he said, ‘It’s funny that you say that, because I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve been feeling the Lord call me.’ ”

Nonetheless, it would be a few more years before Dedek became a seminarian for the archdiocese. In the interim, he studied for a year at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Going into that year, he thought God was calling him to marriage. But that started to change.

“The thought of the priesthood came and went for a long time growing up,” Dedek said. “But this time, I had this feeling that I couldn’t just push these thoughts to the back of my mind. I had to figure out what they meant and what God was trying to tell me in all of this.”

At the end of his freshman year at Indiana University, Dedek “wasn’t ready to make the commitment yet” and so he enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College while speaking regularly about his discernment with his pastor, Father Thomas Kovatch, and then-archdiocesan vocations director Father Eric Johnson.

During that time, he also visited Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. Dedek admitted he was a bit nervous on the way to the seminary.

“When I got there, everyone was so welcoming,” he said. “The whole time I was there, it just felt that I belonged. That’s really what did it. After that, the decision was easy.”

He enrolled there and at nearby Marian University where the college seminarians take classes, graduating three years later.

“Bruté is a home,” Dedek said. “The seminarians there are family. It makes formation more of something you want to do for yourself and your brothers.”

Dedek said that what draws him to the priesthood now is what was attractive to him as a child and a youth.

“What really attracted me to the priesthood was the way that a priest can help people, the way he can be there for people,” he said. The priesthood seems like one of the best ways to help other people.”

A priest who was there for him during the difficult times of his parents’ divorce was Father Charles Chesbrough, his boyhood pastor at St. Charles, who died in 2008. Dedek appreciated “the love and compassion that he had for all of the kids” at the parish school.

“He would remember your name and would always make sure to talk with you when he walked by,” Dedek said of Father Chesbrough. “He was a very kind, loving person.

“He was helpful by just being himself—a jolly priest who was always happy to say ‘Hi’ to you and made sure you were doing OK.”

Father Keucher looks at Dedek and sees a possible future jolly priest in him.

“Michael has a very hospitable presence,” Father Keucher said. “He takes joy in being with people and truly represents the Lord to people in a kind of humble way. He’s just kind of a jolly guy.”

For men considering that God might be calling them to the priesthood, Dedek encouraged them to take it to prayer.

“Make sure you spend some time praying about it, even if it’s just a little bit,” he said. “Praying about it will crack open the door that God can push open the rest of the way.

“Once you’ve prayed about it, you listen and wait for that beautiful, peaceful feeling that God will give you when you’re on the right track.”
 

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


More about seminarian Michael Dedek

  • Age: 23
  • Parents: Mary Dedek and the late Michael Dedek
  • Home parish: St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington
  • Education: Bloomington North High School in Bloomington; Marian University in Indianapolis; Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis; Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad
  • Favorite Scripture passages: Revelation 22:1-5; John 1:1-5
  • Favorite saint: St. Augustine
  • Favorite author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Favorite prayer or devotion: St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration to Jesus through Mary
  • Hobbies: Boating, hiking, camping, reading, learning to play the banjo

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