Seed of faith blooms
PHOTO COURTESY OF NATHAN HAVERLAND Deacon Quentin Schmitz, center, poses with fellow seminarian Evan Tinker, left, and archdiocesan vocations director, Father Mitchel Zimmerman at World Youth Day in Spain in 2011.
Parents’ influence help steer man toward the priesthood
By Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s no guarantee that a boy will grow up to be a priest if both his parents are volunteer religious education teachers.
But it certainly helps.
For Deacon Quentin Schmitz, it was at least a guarantee he didn’t miss Mass.
“Going to Sunday Mass was definitely a priority for us,” said Deacon Schmitz. “At different times, we’d make it to daily Mass off and on. I served daily Mass during some summers, which is when I started thinking about the priesthood.”
Deacon Schmitz’s family originally went to St. Michael Church in Axtell, and later moved to Sacred Heart Church in Baileyville.
“Both of my parents helped teach in the CCD and religious education programs for our parishes, both at St. Michael’s and Sacred Heart,” he said. “My parents definitely influenced me, planting the seed of faith.”
The idea that he might be a priest first occurred to him when he was a young boy, learning how to serve Mass — which is not unusual for most young Catholic boys who’ve been privileged to serve at the altar.
But as he grew older, he didn’t give it much thought.
“When I was younger, it was always there in the background, but I don’t think it was first on my list,” said Deacon Schmitz.
“I would say later in high school and college,” he continued, “I didn’t give it a lot of thought. It wasn’t until later, after college and moving home, [that] I started thinking about it again. I spent several years not thinking about the priesthood.”
For a while he thought his future might lie in agriculture.
“I grew up in a rural area, and I enjoyed the thought of working on a farm,” he said.
Although his parents had farmed before he was born, they owned and operated a printing business for most of his childhood.
“When I was a senior in high school, my parents bought a facility to raise pigs. My father started to raise pigs, and I really enjoyed that,” he said.
So at Kansas State University, he earned a degree in animal science. After graduation, he moved to western Kansas and worked on a farm near Quinter, but eventually moved back to the area where he was raised.
All the while, during his years in college and working in agriculture, a different seed began to germinate: a religious vocation.
“It really had to do with my engagement in my faith life,” he said. “During college, I continued to go to Sunday Mass, but I wasn’t very involved with the faith outside of that.”
Then, he began very simply — praying with Scripture. After he moved home, he began to pray the rosary daily. He became active in the Knights of Columbus and began to frequent perpetual adoration at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. One evening, his parents commented on how they enjoyed going to daily Mass.
“That got me to thinking that I ought to go to daily Mass,” he said. “So every once in a while, I went to daily Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.”
Gradually, Deacon Schmitz grew deeper in the faith through these things. Finally, his pastor surprised him with a question: “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?”
If he hadn’t before, he did then.
“It came back to the forefront to me, and I began to discern if this was something I was called to do,” said Deacon Schmitz. “I don’t know if I ignored it or pushed it away for awhile, but it seemed like the question was somewhat familiar to me. At the same time, I needed the question. I don’t think I would have gotten there without it.”
The archdiocese offered a lot of guidance as he discerned whether or not to enter the seminary. Two particularly helpful things were the Samuel Group he attended at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence and meeting Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann over a Christmas break during a Quo Vadis discernment retreat. Father Brian Schieber, then the archdiocesan vocations director, guided him through the whole process.
“I wasn’t entirely certain, even when I entered the seminary, whether I should be there or not,” he said. “My clarity came while I was in [the] seminary.”
His vocation was no surprise to his parents, however. They saw earlier and more clearly than he did that he had a priestly vocation.
“The best advice I got was to remain open to what God is calling you to do,” said Deacon Schmitz. “My father actually told me that when I was leaving for college. I wasn’t necessarily open [to the priesthood] at that time and not really asking God what he wanted me to do.”
He advises others who are considering a priestly vocation to spend a lot of time in prayer and be willing to ask God this question: What do you want me to do?
Deacon Schmitz will be ordained 10:30 a.m. on May 25 at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka.
Name: Deacon Quentin Schmitz
Born at: Seneca
Parents: Giles and Roxie
Siblings: Five sisters, one brother; I am the second oldest
Current Home Parish: Sacred Heart in Baileyville
Education: B & B High School, 1994 to 1998; Highland Community College, 1998 to 2000; Kansas State University, 2001 to 2003, with a bachelor’s of science in animal science
Seminary: Entered Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Aug. 2007
Favorite TV show: sports
Favorite websites: Vatican, USCCB, weather, ESPN
Favorite musical group/person: Matt Maher
Favorite saint and why: Blessed Virgin Mary. I have witnessed her powerful intercession. She is the mother of God and model follower of Christ.
Favorite devotion and why: Rosary. I have found that in reflecting on the mysteries of Christ, the rosary serves as an invitation to go deep into prayer and is always fruitful.
Books now reading: “Pierced by a Sword” by Bud McFarland Jr.
Favorite food: Reuben sandwich
Favorite childhood toy: Tonka truck
Favorite place in the whole world: That I visited — Holy Land
Dream vacation: Rome
Hobbies/Things I like to do: sports, outdoor activities
If I were sent on a difficult missionary journey, the saint I’d take with me would be: St. Isaac Jogues
Qualities I admire in priests I know: faithfulness, self-giving, humility, and deep relationship with the Lord
My advice for someone seeking his or her vocation: Be open and spend time in prayer listening to God speak to you.
What I’m looking forward to as a priest: Celebrating the sacraments and being with people during their joys and sorrows and everything in between.