We welcome guest blogger Fr. Kyle Schnippel, Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This post was published on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new blog, Being Catholic.
As happens from time to time during seminary formation, doubts and concerns had crept into my prayer. I was still in college seminary and things were not going as smoothly as I had originally hoped and the prospect of facing six more years of seminary seemed daunting. Luckily, one of the priests on staff noticed the lack of my usual smile and pulled me aside to chat, mainly to explore what was getting to me.
As far as I remember, I think one of my sisters had just had another child and everyone back home was so excited. It seemed fairly likely that all five of my siblings would be on the path to marriage (which has born out), and I was lamenting my own embrace of celibacy and the call to be a spiritual father instead of a physical father, not always something easy to grasp at 21 years of age! (Heck, still not, even 14 years later!)
As Monsignor started talking about his own family, he looked at me and gently chimed in: “You know, you will always be the favorite uncle of your nieces and nephews. When your siblings come for a visit, they always have their own children along with them, which is obviously a good thing. However, when you come visit, your full attention can be given to each one of them. And they will adore you for it.”
This memory came back to me over the last week as I had two vastly different experiences that highlighted this very truth. First, I spent a few days at the University of Notre Dame for a conference on the charism of priestly celibacy where we explored the biblical, historical, psychological and spiritual roots of this great gift. From there, I spent a weekend of quiet in Chicago where my twin brother visited with his lovely wife and two charming daughters (six and three years old). The contrast was…extreme, to say the least, but enlightening and brought home all the implications of what was discussed in the conference to a reality of what is lived in my family.
I quietly rejoiced at the ability to recognize such a gift as having been called to a life of celibate fruitfulness in this world and the next.
And I smiled, knowingly, that just ten minutes after my brother left to return home, I received a text to say: “Lucy already misses you!” Favorite Uncle status achieved, now time to bring that same love and devotion back into my life as a priest.
Fr. Kyle Schnippel has served as the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since July 2006. To learn more about priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, visit: CincinnatiVocations.org, Twitter.com/CinciVocations and Facebook.com/Cincinnati.Vocations.