The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue
Local News

'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 him.

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 connected.

"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 said.

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 said.

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.

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