Fr. Schmitt credits Mary for making his vocation to the priesthood apparent

Father Bowan Schmitt presides over the Graduation Mass for Schlarman Academy on May 22. He serves as chaplain of the Danville school. (Screen grab)

DANVILLE — Father Bowan Schmitt said having a Marian devotion is essential for Christ’s followers and he credits Mary for making him aware of his vocation to the priesthood.

“Our Blessed Mother helps us to draw close to Jesus, and she assists us in our efforts to follow His will,” he said. “Our Lady’s prayers and intercession are powerful and fruitful.”

“Our Lady’s prayers and intercession are powerful,” said Father Bo Schmitt.

The son of Dr. Raymond and Margo Schmitt, Father Schmitt was born on May 12, 1963, in Iowa City, Iowa. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Iowa and worked as a technical recruiter for C.P.S. Inc. in Westminster, Illinois.

He studied for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he received master’s degrees in divinity and systematic theology.

Father Schmitt was ordained on May 24, 1997, by Bishop John J. Myers at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria with Father Christopher Haake, Father Carl LoPresti, Father Gregory Nelson, Father Donald Roszkowski, and Father David Whiteside.

His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle in Peoria Heights. Since 2000 Father Schmitt has served as pastor at St. Joseph, Marseilles, and St. Patrick, Ransom; St. Anthony, Hoopeston; St. Thomas in Philo, Immaculate Conception in Bongard, and St. Mary in Pesotum; and Holy Cross in Mendota, St. Theresa in Earlville, and Sts. Peter and Paul in Peterstown.

Father Schmitt was named pastor at St. Paul in Danville and vicar of the Danville Vicariate in 2016. He also ministers as chaplain at Schlarman Academy in Danville.

His new assignment as pastor at St. Patrick, Seneca, and St. Patrick, Ransom, will be effective June 15.

Until then, mail for Father Schmitt may be sent to St. Paul Church, 1303 N. Walnut, Danville, IL 61832.

What drew you to the priesthood?

I was very fortunate to have our Blessed Mother make me aware that Jesus was calling me to become a priest. My trip to Medjugorje helped me to understand that Jesus wanted me to pursue a priestly vocation.

Biggest influence on your vocation?

St. Pope John Paul II is the person who has helped me the most in my years as a priest. Through his teachings, deeds and examples, I have been formed and inspired to live my priestly vocation authentically.

What has given you the most joy?

I enjoy having the opportunity to help persons of all ages to “know, love and serve Christ” and to prepare them for God’s final summon to be with Him in heaven. It is very satisfying to help individuals, especially the young, “set themselves up for spiritual success” and eternal happiness!

Memorable moments?

A: I was blessed to be able to see both St. Pope John Paul II and St. Mother Teresa during my seminary formation.

B: I have been honored to be God’s instrument in facilitating incredible healings and conversions in His flock through my prayer and through the bestowing of the church’s sacraments.

Greatest lessons?

Don’t ever “put God in a box” and assume that He can only do certain things. Father God can help far more than we can ever imagine! We need to “think big” and be open to the unlimited possibilities that God can bring about.

A: Don’t ever “put God in a box” and assume that He can only do certain things. Father God can help far more than we can ever imagine! We need to “think big” and be open to the unlimited possibilities that God can bring about. Never give up or lose hope!

B: Having a Marian devotion is essential for Christ’s followers. Our Blessed Mother helps us to draw close to Jesus, and she assists us in our efforts to follow His will. Our Lady’s prayers and intercession are powerful and fruitful. Her rosary is a most powerful weapon that we definitely must arm ourselves with during our pilgrim journey here on earth.

C: “There is no vacation from your vocation.” Christians must seek to live their faith — each and every day — with the intent of being God’s ray of light and love, and his flavorful salt to each person they encounter!

Favorite Scripture passage?

Luke 1:38: “And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; Let it be done to me according to your word.'” Mary’s words inspire me to continuously echo them in my own life. Like the Blessed Mother, it’s important that we seek to live as God’s humble servants, striving always to follow His Divine Will. This is the path that leads to happiness and holiness.

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