By Eileen Connelly, OSU
Father Chris Geiger, director of Apostolic Works & Internship Program at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology recalls his pastoral internship at Holy Angels Parish in Sidney as a true blessing and affirmation of his vocation to the priesthood. At the time, Father Dan Schmitmeyer was serving as pastor, and Father Dan Hess as the associate pastor.
“It was a great experience,” said Father Geiger, who was ordained in 2016. “I experienced so much joy getting to see two really great priests living out their priesthood in the parish context. It was so beautiful to be able to talk with them, to understand why they did certain things and made the decisions they did. It really was such a reminder to me of how much I love being with people in a parish and it confirmed that this is what the Lord has asked me to spend my life doing.”
Now, in his role at the seminary, he is grateful to witness the blessing that it is for the current pastoral interns as they prepare for priestly ministry. For the 2021-2022 academic year, nine men are participating in the internship program, which runs from August until May.
“The pastoral internships provide seminarians opportunities to engage in the life of a parish, gain hands-on experience working with parishioners, and to further discern their vocation as future priests,” Father Geiger said.
A full list of this year’s seminarians on pastoral internship and their locations can be found at the end of this article.
During their internships, the men’s duties are varied and include: serving at Mass, distributing Communion, assisting with adult faith formation, teaching in the parish school (if applicable), working with the youth group, attending meetings, helping with administrative tasks, and interacting with parishioners both formally and informally.
Matthew Montag said his experiences are helping him prepare for priestly ministry through “the diversity of the work I have been blessed to be able to do, the people I have been blessed to get to know, and the growth that has taken place in my relationship with the Lord.”
“My pastoral internship is preparing me to be a shepherd, father, and minister to the people of God,” added Brice Berger. “I have learned a great deal from the wisdom and example of my internship pastor, Father Thomas King. My time at Guardian Angels has allowed me to immerse myself into every aspect of parish life from ministry to daily operations.
Father Geiger said witnessing the seminarians’ experiences throughout their internships is a reminder of how “good and beautiful this life is. Seeing the faith, the joy, and the excitement with which the men are approaching the priesthood is the greatest benefit.”
He expressed his gratitude for the support that donations to the Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) provide for the seminary, saying, “If we don’t have people donating to the CMA, then the seminary can’t do what it’s doing. The sacrifices that people make give us the freedom to prepare men for the priesthood. Without that work, the future of the Church is bleak. We need this ministry to prepare future priests, and the generosity of our benefactors is not something we take for granted. We pray for them regularly because they’re part of the reason we’re able to do what we do.”
Below are the current pastoral interns and the parishes where they are serving:
Brice Berger, Guardian Angels Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio
Adam Berning, Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio
Stephen Codekas, St. Mary Parish, Bethel, Ohio and St. Peter Parish, New Richmond, Ohio
John Grusenmeyer, St. Louis, St. Ann, Holy Trinity, and St. Philomena Parishes, Clermont County, Ohio
Antonio Losekamp, St. Patrick and St. Mary of the Woods Parishes, Bellefontaine, Ohio
Benjamin Mersch, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Centerville, Ohio
Matthew Montag, St. Collumbkille, Wilmington, Ohio
Anthony Sanitato, St. Bartholomew and St. Vivian Parishes, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chris Turner, St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Findlay, Ohio