Seminarian Danny McShane strives to be transformed by God’s love, share it

Danny McShane of Lincoln is studying to be a priest for the Diocese of Peoria at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. (Photo by Nellie Photography)

Danny McShane already has a wealth of experience to bring to priestly ministry.

A seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, he organized Mount2000, a eucharistic retreat offered entirely by the seminarians for more than 1,000 high school students, this year. For the last two summers, he has been responsible for running Emmaus Days, a series of vocation retreats for young men around the Diocese of Peoria at Nazareth House in rural Henry and St. Bede in Peru.

He has also taught in a grade school, helped prepare students for confirmation and adults for reception into the church through the RCIA process, and is chaplain for the seminary’s men’s lacrosse team. Those attending celebrations at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria have seen him serving in a variety of roles.

In an interview with The Catholic Post, conducted by email, he shares how he heard God calling him, how he is responding to that call, and what he needs most from the people of the Diocese of Peoria. The interview was part of Vocations 2017, a special section in the March 26 issue.

When did you start to think God might be calling you to the priesthood? What did you do?

I first noticed a desire to be a priest when I began altar serving in grade school, but I did not begin to seriously consider the priesthood until I entered college at the University of Illinois. It was there, at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, that I began attending daily Mass, surrounding myself with good friends, and developing my relationship with God in a new and mature way. I simply tried to keep my heart open to whatever God wanted me to do by observing where God was leading me in my life, and interpreting the desires of my heart as best I could in prayer and in conversation with those I trusted most.

The best thing that I did was I visited a seminary my senior year, and it was during that visit that I encountered in prayer God’s desire for me to be His priest.

Who has been an influence as you discern? How have they helped?

I have been blessed with great priests in my life who have helped and encouraged me, both in word and through example, in my discernment. Father Derrick Sneyd and Father Daniel Scheidt from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (Indiana) were tremendous influences on me as a young man.

Then, at the University of Illinois, the joy of the priests serving on campus and the missionary nature of their ministry influenced me a great deal, wanting to live a life like theirs. Msgr. Greg Ketcham especially helped me in spiritual direction and encouraged me to make a visit to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, which cleared up a lot of confusion and questions I had about life as a seminarian.

Where are you in your journey?

I am currently in my fourth year of seminary (2nd Theology) out of six years. God willing, I will be ordained a priest in May 2019.

Talk about what being a priest means to you.

For me, to be a priest of Jesus Christ is to be nothing other than an extension of Christ on earth, an alter Christus, and to offer the perfect sacrifice of Christ to the Father on behalf of the people I am called to serve. Objectively, that is offered in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Subjectively, that is accomplished through conforming my entire life to the reality of that Sacrifice, which is Love itself. It means first being transformed by God’s Love, and then spreading His Love to others.

Where have you served in the Diocese of Peoria over the summer breaks and in what ways?

I was placed at St. Jude Parish in Peoria for my first summer assignment, where I helped serve Mass every day, visited the homebound, and helped with manual labor around the parish property.

The past two summers I have run Emmaus Days, where seminarians help young men in the diocese to encounter God and equip them with the tools they need to discern their vocation and courageously follow God in whatever way He is asking.

Finally, this upcoming summer I will be going to Guatemala with (fellow seminarian) Taylor Caputo for a two-month Spanish immersion program.

What pastoral ministry experiences have you had at Mount St. Mary’s?

My first two years, I helped serve at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is actually on campus here at Mount St. Mary’s. There I was able to serve Mass and at adoration on Sundays, as well as lead a man through RCIA.

Last year, I was assigned to a grade school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to teach once a week, as well as to help with the school’s confirmation classes on Sunday nights.

This year, I had the opportunity to organize and lead a Eucharistic retreat for more than 1,000 high school students from different states up and down the East Coast. The retreat is called Mount2000 and is run entirely by seminarians.

I am also the chaplain for Mount St. Mary’s men’s lacrosse team. This unique opportunity puts me in daily contact with Division I student-athletes. I get to pray with the team before games and practices, develop relationships with the players, and lead them closer to Jesus Christ and His Church. Currently, I am helping one of our players through RCIA.

What do you need from us in the Diocese of Peoria? How can we help you?

Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. This is what I need, and this is what all the seminarians need so that we can return to the Diocese of Peoria after our time in seminary is complete as holy priests ready to serve the people of God with our entire lives.

Also, pray for more young men to hear and to respond courageously to God’s call to follow Him in the priesthood. It can even be good to explicitly ask a young man if he has ever thought about becoming a priest. Your asking may provoke within him a thought, a desire, or even a response that may lead him to realize God’s own desire for him to become a priest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cards, notes and assurances of prayer may be sent to McShane at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, 16300 Old Emmitsburg Road, Emmitsburg, MD 21727. Also studying at “The Mount” are Austin Bosse, Deacon Lee Brokaw, Taylor Caputo, Ryan Mattingly, Andru O’Brien, and Michael Olsta.

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