Encouraging and supporting vocations to the priesthood and religious life has been a top priority for Bishop Robert Finn since his installation in the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph. Currently, the diocese has nearly 30 men studying to become diocesan priests while others have been called to nearby religious orders.
While 27 men are currently in various stages of formation to serve as diocesan priests in the diocese, others have been called to different communities. Over the past year, at least three women and one young man from the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph entered religious life in other dioceses. Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioner Rebecca Restivo entered the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. St. Pius X grad Therese Ringel and St. Mary's High School alumna Lisa Gordon both entered the School Sisters of Christ the King in Lincoln, Nebraska. O'Hara High School grad and Benedictine alumn, Carl Baker, recently became a novice at St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas.
When asked if Baker was the “fish that got away,” Keith Jiron, Director of the Office of Vocations for the diocese remarked that they would “never say 'don't do the order' out of our own greed because we have to be faithful to God's call in their own life."
Vince Huber, a local man studying Theology in Rome for the Apostles of the Interior Life, spoke with the Catholic Key, the newspaper from the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, about his journey to the religious life. Huber is the oldest of four children to Randy and Debbie Huber. He grew up first at St. Peter Parish in Kansas City and then Nativity in Leawood.
When Huber began studies at the University of Kansas, he felt he had a big decision to make - Would he continue to go to Mass each Sunday? "The whole experience of going to college was very important," Huber said. Now with independence, he had the ability to decide if he really wanted to go to Mass. If he did, he "didn't want to go just because my family did."
Deciding that he would go to Mass, Huber felt he must make a full and conscious commitment to his faith. He first decided to pray daily. In his sophomore year he began going to Mass daily at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center and made a commitment to pray for a half hour before classes. "That experience of prayer really started transforming me," Huber said. Huber also began taking theology classes at the Center.
Aside from deepening his spiritual life, Huber also acquired a girlfriend in his sophomore year. Already though, the seed of a vocation began to surface. "The night we broke up," Huber explained, his girlfriend said, "I think you need to be a priest." It may have been said with a touch of anger, but it was also the truth.
One influence on Huber's discernment of a vocation was the Center's director, Monsignor Vincent Krishe (then Father Krishe). It wasn't necessarily any conversation they had, Huber explained, "The most important thing was his presence and what he had done at the Center. He represented Christ to us as students." The Center had begun an hour of Eucharistic adoration at 6:00 a.m. daily. When the leader of that group had to drop his involvement because of conflicts with schedule, "Father Vince took over," Huber said. Huber was profoundly moved by Father Vince's example and commitment. He kept it going for an hour each day even though much of the time, Huber and Father Vince were the only two there.
Following his junior year, Huber took the summer off in order to seriously discern a call to the priesthood. He even began the process to enroll for studies with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
But then in his senior year, Sisters from the Apostles of the Interior Life joined the staff at the Lawrence Center and his life took a different direction. He began receiving spiritual direction from the Sisters and eventually felt "called to be an Apostle instead of entering the diocesan seminary."
Huber had already wanted to be a priest and was "inspired by the priestly life." Some things attracted him more than others. An aspect of the priesthood that most attracted Huber was "forming people in the image of Christ and the Sisters were doing that." While he was inspired also by the priest's role as minister of the Sacraments, he also saw the importance and need of "preparing people to receive the Sacraments well," which was another thing the Sisters were doing.
These were things Huber felt called to, while at the same time he was realizing that a "parish priest has to do so many very practical things," which while essential to the life of the Church, were not where his interest or calling led.
The Apostles of the Interior Life are consecrated women dedicated to evangelization and the "interior formation of all who seek to know and love Jesus Christ." They were founded under the direction of Father Salvatore Scorza, a priest of the Diocese of Rome. The first member, Sister Susan Pieper, is an American and the group has houses both in the U.S. and Italy. In 2002, Father Scorza founded a men's branch which consisting of men from the U.S. and Italy, including Vince Huber, who live in community in Rome and are studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical University of St. John Lateran. More information about the Apostles, their ministries and charism can be found at www.apostlesofil.org.
Like most vocation stories, Huber's includes his family. "A vocation doesn't come out of nowhere," Huber said, "I've been privileged to have a great family. They've always been a model of love and faithfulness to each other." It's a model which will serve Huber well.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper from the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph.