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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Hail Mary: Former Defiance football stalwart seeks priesthood"

From Crescent News.com
By Jack Palmer
Photo at left: Mark Walter (center), a 1992 graduate of Defiance High School, was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana on June 6. He will continue his religious studies at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland and is scheduled to be ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest in 2010. Walter is pictured with his parents, Mike Walter and Letty DeLeon-Silva, both of Defiance.
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- During his high school years, Mark Walter loved to knock heads with opposing linebackers.

Now he operates from a different play book.

Walter, a 1992 graduate of Defiance High School, was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana earlier this month. His ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood is tentatively scheduled for June 12, 2010.

"I am most looking forward to offering Mass and dispensing God's grace through the sacraments and sharing in the lives of the people God called me to serve," said Walter, now 35.

"I would really like to work with teen-agers and young adults. That's an age when people sway away from the church and I certainly fall into that category. It's an important time to provide spiritual support and encouragement."

Walter is the son of Michael Walter and Letty DeLeon-Silva, both of Defiance. He has a younger sister, Molly, who resides in Colorado.

"My parents and sister have been very supportive," he stated. "So have my uncles and aunts and cousins. Father Tim (Kummerer) at St. Mary's (in Defiance) has also been a big influence. Both the St. Mary's and St. John's parishes have been very supportive. I know they pray for me a lot."

Many area football fans may recall Walter as a bruising running back on a strong Bulldog squad which recorded a sparkling 9-1 mark in fall 1991.

"Mark was one of our senior captains that year," said DHS football coach Jerry Buti. "He and Eric Rodriquez were the featured running backs. Our only loss was at St. Marys and they were state champions."

Following high school, Walter attended the University of Dayton and University of Cincinnati, originally intending to major in medical technology. Looking back, he says his interest in religious studies was piqued by two religion courses he took at UD.

"That was my first year in college when I was taking general courses to figure out what I liked," he said. "One of them was taught by a Catholic priest. It was about how the church makes saints and how saints lived their lives."

Walter returned to Defiance in 1998 and worked at a heating and air conditioning business, paint store and large building materials retailer. But he never forgot those religion courses and how they had sparked his interest.

"It was 2001 and I still hadn't found something I wanted to do, something that I was really passionate about like I was with football," said Walter. "That was the first time I started thinking about religious studies."

He enrolled at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne where he began discerning a call to the priesthood. While serving as student chaplain at Lutheran Hospital, he met a former seminarian who introduced him to other priests.

"They were very encouraging," said Walter. "I began thinking this was something I was called to do, but I still had some doubts about committing my life to the priesthood."

After earning a degree in ministry studies from USF, he entered seminary at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., in fall 2004.

"I went there thinking I would give it a year and see what happened," said Walter. "I still wasn't sure if being a priest was for me. The seminary's director of spiritual formation and the spiritual director both took me under their wing. With their help and through prayer, I found the affirmation to continue in seminary."

For the past two years, he was chaplain of Mount St. Mary's Division I baseball team and active in intramural flag football and softball. He will remain there to finish his sixth and final year of seminary.

"I'm preaching a homily almost every day for daily and/or funeral Masses," he said. "It really takes time to prepare a homily. You start reading the lessons a week ahead of time and then take them with you throughout the week. The hardest part is making them relevant and practical to every day living. Faith is not just in the head, it has to be lived."

After his ordination as a priest, Walter will be assigned to a parish in Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, which covers north central Indiana.

"Mark becoming a priest doesn't surprise me, he is a great kid," said Buti. "He was very disciplined and never a problem. His parents were very involved and supportive.

"It's too bad he's not around here," added Buti. "He could be our team chaplain."

1 comment:

Philip Gerard Johnson said...

The Mount stacking their sports teams again!