November 3, 2023

2023 Vocations Awareness Supplement

Seminarians’ love of the Eucharist draws them closer to the priesthood

Seminarians Isaac Siefker, left, Samuel Hansen and Casey Deal stand on Oct. 11 by the tabernacle in the St. Theodore Guérin Chapel at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

Seminarians Isaac Siefker, left, Samuel Hansen and Casey Deal stand on Oct. 11 by the tabernacle in the St. Theodore Guérin Chapel at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

By Sean Gallagher

ST. MEINRAD—The Church in the U.S. is in the middle of its three-year National Eucharistic Revival.

Its mission is to renew the relationship of Catholics across the country with Christ in the Eucharist with the hope that it will then spur them to more effectively proclaim the Gospel in their everyday lives.

Four seminarians for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis recently shared with The Criterion how their love for Christ in the Eucharist has grown in three stages of their lives: while growing up, in discerning a possible priestly vocation and while in seminary.

They are seminarians Casey Deal, Samuel Hansen and Isaac Siefker, who are enrolled at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, and seminarian Randall Schneider, who is in his final year of formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

‘You look at him and he looks at you’

For Schneider, his family’s move to southeastern Indiana when he was about 15 was the point where he started to grow in his love for Christ in the Eucharist.

The move closer to All Saints Parish in Dearborn County—where they were already members—led his parents to commit to praying weekly for an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in the faith community’s perpetual adoration chapel.

Schneider often went with his mother for her hour of prayer. Spending time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament opened him to the mystery of Christ’s presence.

“My senses failed me when I tried to understand our Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament,” said Schneider. “I began to pray and intentionally look at the Eucharist and to see Jesus there. … You look at him and he looks at you.

“You begin to understand that he’s there and wants to be there. He wants to be there with you. That really drew me. Without even knowing it, I was being catechized by adoration.”

The seeds of his vocations were being planted as well.

“My vocation really blossomed under the sun of adoration,” Schneider said.

As a home-schooled high school student, he spoke about the priesthood with Father Jonathan Meyer, who serves in All Saints Parish and the other three parishes in Dearborn County. After graduating from high school, Schneider became an archdiocesan seminarian and has been in formation at Bishop Bruté for three years.

Hansen’s love for the Eucharist grew as a student at St. Roch School and Roncalli High School, both in Indianapolis, where he was influenced by “a lot of people who practiced what they preached.”

That started with his father, Joseph Hansen, who was St. Roch’s principal when he was a student there. It also included his fourth-grade teacher Dick Gallamore and St. Roch’s pastor at the time, now-retired Father James Wilmoth.

“He was my Catholic Superman when I was young,” Hansen recalled.

At Roncalli, Hansen was impressed by his English teacher Philip Milroy, who went out of his way to kneel during all-school Masses celebrated in the school gym.

“With the gym filled up, there was no room to kneel,” Hansen recalled. “But I remember Mr. Milroy. He’d always sit on the edge of a row in the bleachers and kneel on the stairs during the consecration of the Eucharist. I thought then that it was incredible that he did that. He showed a profound reverence.”

It was during high school that Hansen started praying a holy hour, often in the perpetual adoration chapel of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood.

This practice was strengthened when he became a student at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and he saw Catholic peers praying before the tabernacle in the school’s Newman Center.

“That started to rub off on me,” Hansen said. “I started to see the character of these guys. I realized that, if I wanted to be the man who I was created to be, I needed to give time to the Eucharist.”

His thoughts about the possibility of a call to the priesthood, which had been on his mind in high school, then crystallized enough that, after two years at Wabash, he became an archdiocesan seminarian and transferred to Bishop Bruté.

The Eucharist as the ’core component’ of discernment

Casey Deal grew up in Bloomington as a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish. Attending public schools there, he credits the parish’s catechists and pastors for helping him grow in his love for the Eucharist.

This love started to take off as a young adult when Father Thomas Kovatch became St. Charles’ pastor.

Deal recalled being impressed by the love Father Kovatch showed for the Eucharist in the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. It’s a liturgy that especially celebrates Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist and his institution of the priesthood. A eucharistic procession often happens after the Mass.

“You could just see the love that he had for the Eucharist,” Deal said. “To see him love Jesus so much—the impact of those Holy Thursday Masses when he took [the Blessed Sacrament] out of the church—it was so moving for me. Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament is really felt in those times.”

During that time, Father Kovatch also made eucharistic adoration more widely available at St. Charles. Deal was attracted to praying before the Blessed Sacrament and began to discern God calling him to consider the priesthood.

“There was a draw to want to be with Jesus in that unique way that a priest has,” he said. “That God calls normal men to confect his presence through words of the priest is incredible. It’s something that I want to do and somehow I think that God might be calling me to do.”

Isaac Siefker felt a call to the priesthood at a much younger age.

“The Eucharist was the core component to my discernment,” said Siefker. “As long ago as I can remember, I’ve always said that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. And it started with a basic love of the Eucharist.”

He felt that when he was 6, before he had received his first Communion, when he saw his older brother serve at Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford and had an urge to be in the sanctuary with him.

Father Richard Eldred, St. Vincent’s pastor at the time, knew of his desire.

“One day, he came out of the sacristy and said to me, ‘Do you want to serve?’ ”

Siefker recalled. “I remember being so excited. I zoomed back into the sacristy. I loved so much being that close to the altar.”

Like Schneider, Siefker’s love of the Eucharist was also planted in him by the witness of his parents praying before the Blessed Sacrament, which they did at St. Vincent’s perpetual adoration chapel.

“We were a big homeschool family,” he said. “We were very busy. And yet the Eucharist was something that they made time for. It was a priority. That alone spoke volumes.”

His love of the liturgy grew when his family moved and became members of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington and came to know the Franciscans of the Immaculate, who minister at the nearby Our Lady of the Redeemer Retreat Center.

After high school, Siefker took time to discern where God might be calling him. Two weeks that he spent with the Knights of the Eucharist, a community of Franciscan brothers ministering at the time at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala., proved crucial for him.

“That was when I really got the strength I needed to enter seminary,” Siefker recalled. “It had been something I was afraid of. I was able to sit before the Blessed Sacrament and tell our Lord, ‘I’m afraid to do this. … But if you’re going to ask me to do it, I know you’ll give me the strength and I’ll give it a shot.’ ”

‘I dream about it every day’

Mass is celebrated daily at both Bishop Bruté and at Saint Meinrad. And the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration most days of the week at both seminaries.

Thus, the Eucharist is a central part of the priestly formation that archdiocesan seminarians experience.

“It’s a privilege that I get to go to Mass every day,” Deal said. “I have chapels readily available to me where I can pop in and say hi to Jesus in a real way. I don’t want to take this for granted.”

Since Schneider is involved in liturgical music at Bishop Bruté, he often finds himself praying at the back of its chapel, where its organ is. Seeing his fellow seminarians in front of him praying before the Blessed Sacrament moves him.

“It’s so inspiring,” he said. “Every time that I get distracted, I see one of them and their gaze redirects me back to the Eucharist. That’s really been powerful for me.”

As Siefker has progressed in his priestly formation, his daily life has become more complex. He takes a full load of classes at Saint Meinrad, has a parish assignment, holds down a work-study job and volunteers for the seminary’s Project Warm in which seminarians help provide firewood for people living in poverty in the area.

Yet, in the midst of being pulled in so many directions, Siefker feels a greater draw toward prayer before the Eucharist.

“It’s so tempting to put eucharistic adoration on the back burner,” he said. “But then I realize you have to make your time with the Eucharist your priority. Then, somehow, everything else will get done.”

Keeping the Eucharist at the heart of a busy daily schedule is good training for Siefker for what it will be like for him as a parish priest, something he’s yearning to be.

“Maybe I’m ahead of myself, but I dream about it every day,” he said.

And those dreams are all centered on leading his future parishioners to a greater love for the Eucharist.

“If I can just get them to love the Eucharist, everything else will come along.”

Hansen gets a taste of what serving as a priest can be like when he serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at St. Roch, where he’s still a parishioner.

“Each of the people that I’m giving our Lord in the Eucharist to are being affected differently,” Hansen said. “How are these people’s lives being transformed by the Eucharist? That’s something I won’t know until I get to heaven.”

When envisioning himself as a priest, Hansen thinks about a photo of retired Father Paul Landwerlen, the archdiocese’s oldest priest, praying in 2022 on his 94th birthday before the Blessed Sacrament in the perpetual adoration chapel of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville.

“That’s what I want,” Hansen said. “I want to be the 94-year-old priest that can just kneel before the Eucharist, seeing that this is what made my life great.”

(To learn more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit

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