From Savannah Morning News
By Dana Clark Felty
As a child, rural Missourian Scott Winchel saw himself becoming a mechanic or somehow working with numbers.
But on Friday, Winchel will come one step closer to something entirely different: the Catholic priesthood.
Winchel, a 40-year-old former aircraft mechanic and convert to Catholicism, will be ordained as a transitional deacon at a service at noon Friday at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Bishop J. Kevin Boland will officiate.
The transitional diaconate represents the final stage in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Winchel expects to complete his sixth and final year of study this spring at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Afterward, he hopes to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Savannah in June 2009.
The event comes only 11 years after Winchel became a Catholic at the age of 29.
Raised a Southern Baptist in the small town of Peculiar, Missouri, Winchel grew up knowing little about Catholicism.
He began studying the faith after befriending some Catholics while serving as an aircraft mechanic in the Marines.
"In my late 20s, I began to rediscover my faith, and I began looking into scripture and reading," Winchel said during a phone interview last week while traveling home for a few days. "I came to the conclusion, 'I think I have to become a Catholic.' "
Just four years later, Winchel began to feel called to the priesthood. In Missouri, he met Catholic theologian Paul Thigpen, who later moved to Savannah. Thigpen introduced Winchel to diocesan leaders who encouraged the Missourian to pursue the priesthood.
"It seemed like there were a lot of little coincidences and people mentioning things, and I really began thinking God was calling me to give it a shot," Winchel said.
Since enrolling in seminary six years ago, Winchel has taken each day in stride, waiting for a sign that the priesthood isn't the path for him.
But that message hasn't come.
"My prayer has always been, 'You know, Lord, if you don't want me to do this, just let me know and I'll go my merry way,' " he said.
"But at each step, it has seemed, the Lord has continued to call me forward."
If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.