'I had to check priesthood'
Seminary provides an ideal opportunity for chances to be close to God
Eighth in a monthly series about the Green Bay Diocese's seminarians
By Sarah Malcore
Third year college seminarian Ben Sember's life proves the
mysterious ways of God.
Sember's father, James, was raised as a Catholic but left the
church in college for the "personal relationship with Jesus"
offered in Protestant communities.
After a few years, he missed the liturgy and the Real Presence of
Christ in the Eucharist. But his wife, Marion, had been raised as
a Presbyterian with strong anti-Catholic sentiments. Nearly four
more years passed until she was ready to enter the church with
Even then, she said, "I'll become Catholic, but I don't want my
sons becoming priests."
But as she grew to love the church, she grew to appreciate its
ministers and Ben says his parents strongly influenced him by
teaching the faith and encouraging him to take it seriously.
Ben says he was fortunate to know excellent priests who served
with joy and who loved the church deeply.
Around age 14, he started to consider priesthood. As a high
school senior he visited St. John Vianney seminary and the
University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, to which it is academically
"I reached the point where I knew sooner or later I would have to
check out priesthood," he said.
At St. John Vianney Seminary, he is majoring in philosophy and
Catholic studies and enjoying the experience.
"Seminary is a great place to be close to God," he said. "There
is Mass, daily prayer, and a Eucharistic chapel for the
seminarians, open 24 hours a day.
"The camaraderie is excellent. It is great to be around men
asking the same questions and facing the same challenges. The
only draw back is that it can be tough some times to get away
from all the seminary events and the 'seminarian stereotype,' but
most of the college students respect seminarians. College age men
who are excited about their faith are an endangered species," he
He enjoys biking with his twin brother, Joel, and their father.
His favorite book is the Bible, but he also enjoys Tom Clancy's
works and JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Spaghetti is
his favorite food, and he likes to eat at Perkins and Applebee's.
Following God's plan can be difficult, Sember said. "All
Christians are called to love God and follow wherever he leads.
It's not a question of whether you have a vocation or not, but
whether your vocation is as a priest or a nun, as married or
single. I personally feel that God is calling me to priesthood,
but he could be calling you anywhere.
"God doesn't want part of your life, he wants all of it: body,
mind and soul. Living a vocation may be difficult, but even the
difficulties are joys when you know you are following God," he
For a man thinking about priesthood, Sember advised, "Don't be
afraid of what other people think. Just considering a vocation is
taking your faith seriously, and that will set you apart from
everyone around you. Most people do not understand why anyone
would want to dedicate his life to God. You will have to
surrender much to God, but he will give you much in return.
"The life of a priest is at times very difficult work but it is
the kind of work most worth doing. To preach the Gospel always,
to serve the people of God, to pray often for them, to bring God
close to them, and bring lost souls home to God. This is what
matters. This is all that really matters, in the end."
(Malcore works in the diocesan Vocations office.)
Who: Ben Sember.
What: Third year college seminary student.
Where: St. John Vianney College Seminary.
Background: Sember and twin brother, Joel, were born in 1980 in
New York. Sember's family also lived in Virginia and North
Carolina before coming to New Holstein. Sember also has a younger
sister and four younger brothers.
Parents: James Sember, engineering manager for Kohler Co., and
Marion Sember, homemaker.
Home Parish: Sacred Heart, Sherwood.
E-mail: [email protected]
Interested: For more information on vocations to priesthood or religious life, phone Fr. Doug LeCaptain at (920)437-7531 or toll-free at 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8293, or by e-mail, [email protected].
To learn more about the diocese's other seminarians, e-mail your
name and address to [email protected] or call (920)437-7531 or toll-free, 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8287, to receive a free book about all the seminarians.