Matthew Colle to be ordained a transitional deacon at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | June 18, 2021

Luxemburg native awaits priestly ordination in 2022

Matthew Colle, pictured outside of St. Joseph Chapel on the diocesan grounds in Allouez, will be ordained a transitional deacon on June 20. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest in the summer of 2022.

ALLOUEZ — Matthew Colle breaks out a wry smile when describing himself as someone who “takes time to process things.” It somewhat explains how, even though the foundation for his vocation began during his childhood, he didn’t consider the call to the priesthood until he was a graduate student in college.

“The seed was planted by my pastor, Fr. Milton Suess, when I was in grade school (St. Mary’s in Luxemburg),” said Colle, who will be ordained a transitional deacon on June 20 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay. “He told me, ‘I think you would make a good priest’ or ‘I think you will be a priest.’ I couldn’t make the connection as a second grader to Fr. Suess, who at that time was probably in his 60s.”

Colle, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in the summer of 2022, credits his parents, Mike and Sue, for their faith examples during his upbringing. In addition to a Catholic education through sixth grade, the importance of attending Mass was instilled.

“My dad set that example. He worked at the paper mill in Green Bay, swing shift,” said Colle. “He would have some weekends where he would work from 6 (a.m.) to 6 (p.m.). He would always go to the vigil Mass on Saturday. I can remember meeting him at that Mass with my mom and brothers.

“My mom was very involved. She would always give her time, teaching (religious education) or volunteering for things,” he added. “She’s also the one who taught us to pray: extemporaneous prayer, just speaking to God.”

Colle, who was an altar server through high school, attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to study animal science. His interest in the field stemmed from his experience on the family farm in Luxemburg. He continued his postsecondary education at the University of Idaho, which is when he first considered the call to priesthood.

“I thought I was going to be a teacher or professor in animal science,” he said. “I specialized in meat science. My older brother (Michael) was out there. The priest there was around 40, at St. Augustine, ‘St. Augies,’ in Moscow. They had their Catholic (campus ministry) student group and outreach called the Vandal Catholics, after the Idaho Vandals. I became involved with them and connected with that priest, Fr. Caleb Vogel,” who is now vocations director for the Diocese of Boise, Idaho.

Prior to feeling called to the priesthood, Colle felt called to holiness.

“During that transition, I first started to feel that God was calling me to live my life for him,” he said. “I didn’t immediately think (about) priesthood, but those thoughts started to come once I was called to holiness. I started to show up at adoration once a week on Wednesday afternoons. That consistency going back to silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament is where I was able to communicate with God and see that he cared for me and desired me to live a life of freedom and joy.”

Shifting to seminary immediately after six years of higher education would have been difficult, so Colle accepted an opportunity to serve through AgriCorps, a mission program for college graduates with degrees in agriculture. Colle was assigned to Ghana, West Africa, to teach agriculture and start 4H programs in the schools.

“I thought it would just be an experience for me to grow, to get out of my comfort zone a little bit,” he said. “I was in Ghana for three months and talking on the phone to my mom and my younger brother, Nick, and telling them, ‘I think I’m called to be a priest.’”

Colle attended St. Francis de Sales Seminary, near Milwaukee, for two years in pre-theology. He then moved in the fall of 2018 to study at the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City. Following his first year overseas, he traveled to Kolkata, India, to work with the Missionaries of Charity. Colle spent afternoons in the house that Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Kolkata, founded for the sick, dying and destitute. 

In summer 2020, Colle served at St. John the Baptist Parish in Howard.

“Being with Fr. Jim (Lucas, pastor) was a huge blessing,” said Colle. “We started each day with morning prayer and the office of readings together. I just followed him around. He let me speak before the weekend Masses. I did a little teaching about the Mass and wrote bulletin articles, which I enjoyed. I look forward to preaching this summer.”

Colle will serve as a deacon at St. Clare Parish, Askeaton/Greenleaf/ Wrightstown, before returning for his final year at the Pontifical North American College. He looks forward to having Fr. Brian Wideman, pastor, as a mentor and getting to know the people of the parish.

“I hope I can visit some of the parishioners’ farms and see their animals,” he said.

The opportunity to serve for two months as a deacon in the diocese and to allow for more family and friends to attend led Colle to choose to be ordained in Green Bay rather than in the coming fall at St. Peter’s Basilica. Deacon Patrick Costello will vest Colle at his ordination Mass.

“I’ve gotten to know him well over the past three years,” said Colle. “He’s a joy to be around and a great witness. He will be deacon for my ordination and I will be deacon for his (ordination to the priesthood on July 3).”

Colle’s first Mass as a deacon will be at 8 a.m. Monday, June 21, at St. Mary Church in Luxemburg with Fr. Daniel Schuster, pastor. Fr. Schuster served as vocation director when Colle entered seminary.

Colle wishes that Fr. Suess would have been able to attend his ordination. The longtime pastor in Luxemburg died last December.

“Looking back, I can see how foundational Fr. Suess and my parents were at forming me in the faith,” he said. “I would describe Fr. Suess as holy and devout, and joyful, too.”

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