This post is part of a monthly series on my blog, called PRIESTS & NUNS ARE COOL! in which I interview a priest or a nun about his or her vocation — and about how adults who haven’t discerned a vocation yet can discover their own. This edition features Fr. Mike Schmitz, the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth.
I almost met Fr. Mike Schmitz once. He was a keynote speaker where I was a chaperone: at a Steubenville ATL youth conference.
Our paths crossed but neither my schedule nor his provided the time for us to chat, which, let’s face it, was a bummer. But Fr. Mike and I have connected since, because the Internet.
Fr. Mike — a killer homilist (my words, not his) who aims to be a better man, priest, friend and relative, and to find new ways to share who Jesus Christ is and to help people encounter Him — is gracious to discuss his vocation for this series, and to tell us how an adult who doesn’t know his or hers yet might discover it:
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
B). A Lifeguard
C). A cross country ski instructor by day and guitar-playing singer at night in Vail, CO.
When did you decide you would become a priest?
I went to confession when I was 15 and I encountered God in a real, powerful, and personal way. Soon after that moment, I wondered if God would want me to be a priest. Fast forward almost 10 years, a couple of wrestling matches with the Lord, and a close brush with almost getting married and it was clear one day when I was in Adoration that I needed to at least give the seminary a try.
How did you know you were called to be a priest?
I used my brain. (That sounds sarcastic, but I mean it). Sometimes people get “signs,” but most often God lets us use the tools He has already given us, like our minds. With good counsel, a lot of prayer (so I would know the truth about who God really is), and a good amount of reflection, it was just very clear that God had been inviting me to at least take a step in this particular way.
What’s the best part (or best parts) of being a priest for you?
That is like asking “What is the best part of being married to X?” : ) The best part is knowing that God has called me to do this, and when I do it, I am saying “yes” to His will.
What should a young adult do who still isn’t sure what his or her vocation is?
Choose to grow in virtue. You will need to be virtuous no matter what your vocation is. Pray every day. Sacrifice for others (God and the people around you) on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be huge, just something. Stay close to the Sacraments. Get more data. This means doing more than “wondering.” It means getting out there and finding more information (visiting a seminary or religious order, or asking the person out). Be more courageous than you have been.