Meet the four who will be ordained priests on May 24

Photo Caption: All four transitional deacons are completing studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

By: By Tom Dermody

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will ordain four men to the priesthood on Saturday, May 24, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. The Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a reception for the new priests at the Spalding Pastoral Center. The public is invited.

The transitional deacons who will be ordained for priestly service in the Diocese of Peoria are profiled below. The accounts also list information on the first Masses of the newly ordained priests, scheduled for Sunday, May 25.

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DEACON CHASE HILGENBRINCK

A former professional soccer player, Deacon Hilgenbrinck has heroes he hopes to emulate when he enters the ministry field as a Catholic priest.

“I pray that I may be a witness of God’s mercy as tactfully and charismatically as Pope Francis, and be a witness of God’s protecting hand by defending the Church as courageously and boldy as Bishop Jenky,” said Deacon Hilgenbrinck, a native of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

The son of Mike and Kim Hilgenbrinck and a 2000 graduate of University High School in Normal, Deacon Hilgenbrinck realized that “my parents were right about our faith being the most important aspect of our lives” when he twice left the support base of family and friends — first to attend Clemson University in South Carolina, and four years later when he arrived in Chile to pursue his dream of playing professional soccer.

In South America, alone in a new culture with a new language and customs, “I turned to the Catholic Church and specifically to my personal relationship with Christ for strength,” he told The Catholic Post. During a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on a cold Chilean afternoon, he heard God’s voice calling him to pursue a vocation to the priesthood.

The soccer player was caught off guard. But the call persisted and grew stronger over the next two years until “I knew that I had nothing left to do but say ‘yes.'”

As he returned to the U.S. in 2008 as a member of the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer, he confronted the question of whether to wait until his soccer career was over before entering seminary. A quote from Scott Hahn’s book “Rome Sweet Home” hit him “like a ton of bricks”:

“Delayed obedience is disobedience,” wrote Hahn.

“It would have been disobedient to make the Lord wait,” said Deacon Hilgenbrinck. “After 2.5 years, I couldn’t make him wait any longer.”

Deacon Hilgenbrinck made headlines when he left professional soccer to begin study at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Va., with a goal of “attaining heaven by doing God’s will.”

“I hope to live this vocation faithfully and to excel in attracting people to the peace that I longed for and now know — a life on earth lived in personal communion with God,” he told The Catholic Post.

Father Robert Rayson will serve as his vesting priest at the ordination Mass. Deacon Hilgenbrink’s first Mass will be at Holy Trinity Church in Bloomington at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 25. Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who serves as rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, will be homilist. A reception will follow Mass.

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DEACON MATTHEW HOELSCHER

Deacon Hoelscher says he is amazed by how God uses people in our lives to help us see His will. And he traces his own vocation story to a suggestion made to him during a retreat between his junior and senior years of high school in Amarillo, Texas.

“One of our young adult chaperones told me that he thought I would make a good priest,” recalled Deacon Hoelscher. “From that moment on I could not seem to shake the thought that God could ask me to do that.”

Deacon Hoelscher came to the Diocese of Peoria to serve as director of youth ministry for high school and middle school students at Epiphany Parish in Normal after graduating in 2005 from the University of Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in theology. Msgr. Eric Powell, pastor of Epiphany, will serve as his vesting priest during the ordination liturgy.

“It was not until I started taking prayer seriously while working at Epiphany that I began to realize that my relationship with the Lord could go no further unless I followed Him unreservedly,” he told The Catholic Post. And while he loves the outdoors — Deacon Hoelscher enjoys playing and watching baseball, taking part in triathlons, hiking, and hunting — he called the quiet time spent with Christ in Eucharistic adoration “a major influence” in understanding God’s personal love for him.

God also used the priests of the Diocese of Peoria to point him toward the seminary.

“It seemed as if every priest I met was excited and joyful about being a priest,” said Deacon Hoelscher. He noticed they lived out their priesthood “in a very genuine and fulfilling way.”

Now the Texas native and son of Tim and Kim Hoelscher hopes to do likewise.

“My greatest hope is to do God’s will and to always be open to the service he calls me to,” he said.

Deacon Hoelscher’s seminary studies were completed at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. His first Mass will be at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 25, at Epiphany Church in Normal. Msgr. Powell will be homilist, and a reception will follow in the parish hall.

DEACON COREY KRENGIEL

Deacon Krengiel went to college with the intention of becoming a high school band director. Now he looks forward to leading people “into the depths of the mystery of God” as a priest.

The son of Don and Patty Krengiel and a native of St. Patrick Parish in Lemont, Deacon Krengiel credits the vibrant faith community at the Newman Center on the campus of Illinois State University for awakening his faith.

“As I attended Mass (there), I found a community of people my age who had a love for God and a love for life,” said Deacon Krengiel. “This community became the center of my college experience and it was there that I learned to pray, that I learned about the Church, and most importantly it is the place where I encountered Jesus.”

His deep respect for two priests who lived and worked at the Newman Center at that time — Father Tony Dittmer and Father Victor Mosele, SX — plus prayer before the Lord in the Eucharist led him to consider the priestly life in his third year at Illinois State. Father Dittmer suggested that before making a decision, Deacon Krengiel should take part in an Emmaus Days discernment retreat sponsored by the Diocese of Peoria.

“I went on the retreat, and I came home with the news for my parents that I did not intend to return to ISU in the fall,” said Deacon Krengiel. He enrolled at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn., that fall, and hasn’t looked back, completing his preparation for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

Father Dittmer will be homilist when Deacon Krengiel celebrates his first Mass at St. Patrick’s in Lemont at noon on Sunday, May 25. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

Father Daniel Gifford will serve as his vesting priest at the ordination Mass.

Deacon Krengiel, who played percussion in bands and orchestras and still enjoys making music, is grateful to all who have accompanied him as he pursued his priestly vocation.

“I have been praying for all of you,” he assured Catholics of the Diocese of Peoria, “and I thank everyone who has been praying for me. I ask for your prayers especially as my priestly ordination and that of my three brother deacons quickly approaches.”

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DEACON KYLE LUCAS

Faith has always been a part of Deacon Kyle Lucas’ life.

“I grew up in a good Catholic family,” said the son of Mark and Anne Lucas, members of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights. He attended the parish grade school and is a 2005 graduate of Peoria Notre Dame High School.

It was at Peoria Notre Dame that his prayer life developed and his personal relationship with Christ “began to take root.” After two years of studies at Illinois Central College, he transferred to the University of Illinois to study political science. He especially wanted to live in Newman Hall, the Catholic residence facility.

“I quickly found myself surrounded by people my own age who were honestly seeking the Lord’s will for them,” said Deacon Lucas. “This motivated me to really focus on the possibility that God might be calling me to the priesthood,” he added, crediting Msgr. Greg Ketcham and Father Luke Spannagel for their spiritual guidance as he mustered the confidence and trust to enter the seminary. Msgr. Ketcham will be his vesting priest during the ordination Mass.

An “amazing peace” came over Deacon Lucas when he made the decision to leave the university and enter Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in the fall of 2008. His preparation for the priesthood was completed at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

“I felt very strongly that the way that the Lord had made me to love was to share in the one priesthood of His Son, so to lead others to the mercy and love of the true God,” said Deacon Lucas.

Now he is looking forward to celebrating “the wonders the Lord has done” with his family and friends on ordination weekend.

He will celebrate his first Mass at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Peoria Heights. The homilist will be Father Dustin Schultz, parochial vicar of St. Matthew, Champaign, and St. Boniface, Seymour.

“I hope that I may always remain open to the Lord’s grace so that He may work in and through me the marvels and wonders he has in store for all of his people I will minister to,” he said.

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