June 16, 2006

Ordained to serve: Deacon Nobbe looks forward to a life of service in the priesthood

By Sean Gallagher

Seven years ago, Deacon Scott Nobbe was halfway around the world in South Korea pondering what he should do with his life.

Seeking help in his quest, he turned to the priest who had been his pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Fortville during his childhood and teenage years, Father Joseph Kos.

“I asked him questions about where my life had been, where it was and where I was heading,” said Deacon Nobbe. “And after about three months of e-mailing these kinds of questions and getting his responses, [he said that] I was asking questions that can only be answered inside a seminary.”

Deacon Nobbe, who for several months had been teaching conversational English in Seoul, South Korea, returned home in February 2000 and began the process to become a seminarian. (Read our archived story from 2002)

Deacon Nobbe’s journey of vocational discernment that began so far away will come to fulfillment at 10 a.m. on June 24 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis when he will be ordained to the priesthood.

Father Kos, however, will only be present in spirit at that liturgy. He died on Aug. 9, 2000, just months after Deacon Nobbe returned to Indiana.

Other people were also important guides for Deacon Nobbe along his vocational path. His parents, Paul and Joyce Nobbe, were crucial.

Organizing the parish festival at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish for 16 years, they were the first people to instill in him the value of service to God and the Church.

Now, as he awaits the priestly ordination of his son, Paul Nobbe sees the event as one more way he can contribute to the life of the Church.

“If that’s another way that we can give to the Church through him, then I’m glad that we’re able to do that,” he said.

He said he hoped his four children learned the value of service from the example of him and his wife.

“I guess, like everything you do as a parent, you hope they kind of notice the good things you do and learn from the good things you’re doing,” said Paul Nobbe, who, along with his wife, are now members of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville. “They became involved in the festival as we were doing those things and as they became teenagers. So I guess they learned something from it and took something from it.”

Deacon Nobbe acknowledged that his parents’ example had a positive impact on him.

“It’s the way they lived their faith,” Deacon Nobbe said. “And so I think that’s helped me as a seminarian kind of do more than what was expected in the seminary process in terms of service to the community.”

Over the past two years at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, he served as the retreat director for many youth retreats held there. (Read a story written by Deacon Nobbe about a summer spent in Guatemala)

It was on a similar retreat that he first came to Saint Meinrad in the late 1980s when he was preparing for confirmation as a high school student.

Ron Greulich, a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and the director of major gifts in the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, was the catechist for Deacon Nobbe’s confirmation class.

“It’s just an honor to have played a small part in where he’s headed,” Greulich said. “It’s unbelievable because it’s so hard for kids to aspire to become priests nowadays and to take on that life of service.”

After graduating from Greenfield Central High School, Deacon Nobbe earned a soccer scholarship and studied in northern Indiana at Valparaiso University.

After rejecting a career in sports management, he contemplated high school teaching and coaching soccer.

But after graduating from Valparaiso in 1994, Deacon Nobbe enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for four years at Fort Hood, Texas.

It was there that he was first introduced to Hispanic ministry, which he looks forward to participating in after his ordination.

Beginning on July 5, he will be Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein’s liaison to Hispanic ministry in the archdiocese—in addition to serving part time as the archbishop’s executive assistant and participating in Hispanic ministry in the Indianapolis West Deanery.

Deacon Nobbe said that his years in the Army—where for the first time he met people from all walks of life—were an important preparation for his life and ministry as a priest.

“Like the Army, a parish is working toward one goal in terms of making parishioners holy within the Church,” he said. “The Army is an army of one: one goal, the same mission. There’s a parallel there, too, that I found very interesting.”

After completing his military service, Deacon Nobbe began his South Korean teaching position.

It was during that time that Father Kos helped Deacon Nobbe realize that service to others—whether it was at parish festivals, in the Army or in teaching—was the tie that bound the varied strands of his life.

While ministering to and with others will be a crucial part of his life as a priest, Deacon Nobbe also realizes that a significant part of his service to the faithful will happen simply through the sacramental nature of his priestly identity.

“There’s an opportunity there in every instance of the day in interaction with other people to bring not just myself but Christ to people,” he said. “It’s overwhelming at times, humbling but very exciting for me to have that capability.”

On the other hand, Deacon Nobbe finds that in serving others, the face of Christ is revealed to him.

“As much as I try to bring to people that presence of Christ,” he said, “I think even more so I’m finding myself being shown that presence of Christ in the people I interact with.”

The day after his priestly ordination, Deacon Nobbe will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10:30 a.m. at St. Gabriel Church in Connersville. The following weekend, he will celebrate all the weekend Masses at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Fortville. †


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