November 1, 2019

2019 Vocations Awareness Supplement

Turning points keep marking seminarian’s journey of faith

Archdiocesan seminarians Matthew Perronie, left, and Tyler Huber pose in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City last summer when both seminarians were in Mexico to learn Spanish and continue their priestly formation. (Submitted photo)

Archdiocesan seminarians Matthew Perronie, left, and Tyler Huber pose in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City last summer when both seminarians were in Mexico to learn Spanish and continue their priestly formation. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Tyler Huber mentions that he usually has tears in his eyes by the time he finishes the story.

The story unfolded on a summer morning in 2018 at Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis. Huber was assigned there as part of his formation as a seminarian at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

He was talking with parish staff members that morning when Msgr. Paul Koetter, the pastor, asked him if he wanted to come along on a visit to a woman in a nursing home.

“Father Paul explained that the woman’s husband had passed away recently,” Huber recalls. “This lady also suffered from dementia. Her daughter was there, and Father Paul asked if he could do the anointing of the sick. I looked at the lady and wondered if she was getting any of this. She was unresponsive at this point.

“Then we started praying the ‘Our Father’ together. And she started praying the ‘Our Father.’ I was at a loss for words. When we finished, she said, clear as day, ‘Thank you.’ That was all she said. I found out later that she passed away that night.

“When I got in the car with Father Paul, I asked him if that’s why he became a priest. He said, ‘Preparing people for heaven is a special gift of the priesthood.’

“It was a turning point in my discernment. There was a lot of grace in that moment. I walked away thinking it would be incredible to be a priest, and this would be an awesome sacrament to celebrate one day.”

‘Where is God calling me?’

That experience is one of the defining moments in Huber’s journey of faith as he continues to follow his path to the priesthood. Right now, the 24-year-old Huber is on schedule to be ordained as a priest for the archdiocese in 2023.

Yet as in nearly all journeys of faith, there have been high points, low points and turning points for Huber as he tries to answer the universal question that all people of faith are asked to consider, “Where is God calling me?”

For much of his young life, Huber thought the answer would include getting married, creating a family and having a career in construction engineering—the major he pursued at Purdue University. Yet that focus started to change during his sophomore year when a female friend at Purdue invited him to join a group of people going to the 24-hour adoration chapel at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette, Ind.

“Usually, a group of us would go there, especially in the midst of mid-terms when we were all stressed out,” recalls Huber, who grew up in St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County. “After being there a while, we’d go back to campus refreshed. It was in the silence of that adoration chapel that the idea of the priesthood first came up.”

Huber wasn’t exactly thrilled by that idea at the time.

“When the thought first came up, I was enjoying my engineering classes and succeeding in my studies. It was right when God gave me peace about making my decision to major in construction engineering. When the thought of the priesthood came into my mind, it was frustrating.”

It was also growing consistently stronger.

In his sophomore year, he led a Catholic men’s group on campus, immersed in the pursuit of “learning what it meant to be a good man of faith.” In his junior year, he was asked to be a youth minister at a parish near Purdue, and “fell in love with it.”

Then came another defining moment just before his senior year.

Huber is someone who loves all sports, especially baseball and basketball. In the summer before his senior year, he was coming to the end of an internship with a company in Detroit that was his dream job—building huge sports complexes. On the last day of his internship, the chief executive officer took him to lunch, and she made him a generous job offer to join the company after his graduation from Purdue.

“I told her I needed time to think about it. I told her the seminary was on my mind.”

She told him she would wait as long as he needed for his decision.

“The next day, I flew to Alaska with my childhood best friend,” says Huber, an outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, hunting and fishing. “We’re hiking in the mountains and seeing all God’s creation. I said, ‘Grant, I think I need to go to seminary.’ ”

Being the presence of Christ to others

After graduating from Purdue in May of 2017, Huber entered Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad that August, continuing his discernment to determine if the priesthood was God’s call for him.

Similar to many beginnings in life, this one had its low points and challenges.

“The first year was pretty tough. It took a while to adjust, going from a school of 40,000 to a community of 120. It took me a while to adapt to how to live in community life. There was frustration, but I still knew God was present in all of that.”

Huber also felt God’s presence during the summer after his first year of formation when he was assigned to Holy Spirit. He “fell in love” with parish life, savoring his involvement with the youths, the nursing home residents and the parish families.

“I loved being the presence of Christ to them—to let them know they’re loved and cared for by him.”

That good feeling continued when he returned to the seminary in the fall of 2018.

“I started developing some great friendships. There was a lot of self-growth and knowledge that I really had a desire for the priesthood. I realized I have a desire on my heart to bring the sacraments to people.”

‘It would drastically change their faith’

That desire led him to Mexico for nine weeks this past summer, part of his priestly formation. During that time, he studied Spanish, hoping to learn the language well enough to communicate with Hispanic families, a group he grew to love during his assignment at Holy Spirit.

The summer also led him to an emotional moment at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

“I remember walking toward it, and my heart was overwhelmed with the image of Our Lady. After Mass, we walked to the hill where she actually appeared. There was another church there. I prayed for people there. To pray for all the people where Mary had appeared was overwhelming.”

Huber believes that a Catholic man considering a vocation to the priesthood would get a similar defining experience by pursuing that call.

“If they’re thinking about it, I would tell them, ‘Just jump in.’ I know what it’s like to be scared. If every young man could get a taste of seminary formation—even if they only stayed for a year—it would change everything. It would drastically change their faith, their priorities in life, and the way they see the world.

“You’re going to learn a lot about yourself and a lot about God.”

Huber expects to learn even more about both as his journey of faith continues.
 

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

 

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