Seminarian ordained deacon in Rome - Catholic Courier

Seminarian ordained deacon in Rome

At World Youth Day in Toronto in 20002, Peter Van Lieshout felt a jolt as Pope John Paul II spoke in English about not being afraid to follow a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.

"It was almost a feeling of shock and fear that perhaps God was offering to me the gift of a priestly vocation," he said. "I don’t remember the thought lasting long, and it was still years before I began seriously considering a vocation to the priesthood, but the moment was tangible enough to leave an impression."

More than a decade later, Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, ordained Deacon Van Lieshout, 26, a transitional deacon Oct. 3 at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, along with 40 other students at the seminary.

Deacon Van Lieshout, a seminarian, is scheduled to be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rochester at Sacred Heart Cathedral in June 2014, along with Deacon Sergio Chávez.

A native of Livonia and a parishioner of St. Matthew Church, Deacon Van Lieshout is a 2004 graduate of Livonia High School. He is the son of David and Christina Van Lieshout and has siblings Katelyn, 25, Adam, 22, and Marissa, 12.

In an e-mail interview from the North American College, he said his parents took seriously their duty as the first and primary educators of their children in the Catholic faith. They made sure the family attended Mass every Sunday, went to confession regularly and did a weekly study of the faith, such as reading a catechetical book.

After high school, Deacon Van Lieshout attended Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

"I found campus life to be a positive kind of peer pressure," he said. "Many students go to Mass and pray the rosary daily. Students know the faith well and they live it with a youthful zeal. Often the students become active in missionary and pro-life efforts. In short, the university is not ashamed to be called Catholic — the faith is the center of its identity."

He graduated from Franciscan University in 2008 and that fall entered Becket Hall, the diocesan residential program for priestly vocation discernment. He has completed a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and is in his first year of study for a licentiate in dogmatic theology through the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Angelicum). He said many have encouraged him with prayers, letters and other gestures of support.

"I am convinced that my vocation is the fruit of many, many good laypeople in our diocese who have prayed fervently for priestly vocations," Deacon Van Lieshout said.

Deacon Van Lieshout completed a pastoral year at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva, and during his time at Becket Hall did part-time work at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Brighton. He said he looks forward to serving the diocese and inspiring future seminarians.

"What I look forward to most is simply living out the priestly vocation with zeal by teaching the faith in its full beauty, giving the sacraments with reverence and love, and laying down my life for the people of our diocese," Deacon Van Lieshout said. "May God give me the grace to do this well and with perseverance."

During his time as a seminarian, Deacon Van Lieshout was able to experience the papal transition in Rome firsthand.

"Being so close to the Vatican we had come to love and respect Pope Benedict as a father in a more intimate way than many are able," Deacon Van Lieshout said. "His sudden and unique mode of departure from the Throne of Peter took us all by surprise."

Deacon Van Lieshout said he was in St. Peter’s Square the evening Pope Francis was elected. He was moved by the people who yelled out Viva il papa (Long live the pope!) after white smoke appeared but before the world knew who had been elected.

"Just that fact that we had a father again was cause for rejoicing," he remarked.

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