Five seminarians will take the final step on their long journeys to the Priesthood when they are ordained Transitional Deacons May 20.
Everyone is invited to attend the 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, to pray with Bishop Alfred Schlert, who will administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders in a rite that will be witnessed by friends, families, fellow seminarians, as well as many consecrated religious, deacons, and priests.
It is the largest group of men being ordained Transitional Deacons in one year since 2003.
“What a great sign of hope it is to see so many men advancing toward the Priesthood,” said Bishop Schlert. “So now is the time to pray even more fervently for young men to fill in behind them at the seminary, to answer God’s call to the service of our people through the Priesthood.”
The “transitional” in the Transitional Deacon title refers to the fact that, unlike permanent deacons who serve in parishes around the Diocese, they typically will spend only one year in the assignment as they prepare pastorally and spiritually for the Priesthood. God willing, they will be ordained priests in June 2024.
The men to be ordained Transitional Deacons are:
Nikolai R. Brelinsky
Nikolai Romero Brelinsky, 26, spent his first four years at St. Charles as a seminarian for the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. He then took a year off for further discernment, working as a Catholic school teacher and Director of Religious Education at his home parish in North Carolina.
It was his close friendship with several Diocese of Allentown seminarians, and his interactions with priests of our Diocese, which prompted him – when he returned to seminary studies at St. Charles Borromeo – to set his goal on being a priest for the Diocese of Allentown.
Brelinsky is the second oldest of eight children. Like several of the men about to become transitional deacons, he was homeschooled during his high school years, a time when his close contact with our faith made it easier, he says, to answer the Lord’s call to the Priesthood.
He is a member of Holy Guardian Angels Parish, Reading, and is a son of Gregory and Tara Brelinsky.
Keaton C. Eidle
For the past few years, Keaton Eidle was the coordinator of the “Jesus Run,” Friday-night visits to homeless people in center-city Philadelphia. Seminarians from St. Charles Borromeo are assisted by homeschool families and Catholic students at local colleges in the outreach effort.
“We take them food and clothing,” he says, “but the real mission is to talk with them, to remind them of their dignity as children of God. It’s a chance to be Christ to them, and for them to be Christ to us.”
Eidle, 25, is one of 14 children, and credits his homeschooling environment, and the strong example of devoted prayerfulness set by his parents, Rob and Andrea Eidle, for his decision to become a priest. His brother Kolbe also is a seminarian. They are parishioners of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring.
Van-Vien Nguyen knows that his name can be hard for some people, so he took a nickname – J.V. – which comes from Joseph, his baptismal name, and Van-Vien, his first name.
He also knows that the Church in America is in dire need of priests, which is why he asked his Archbishop in Vietnam if he could become a priest here in the United States.
Nguyen, 30, entered the seminary in Vietnam, and was on a study-abroad assignment at the St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa., when he made the request. He chose the Diocese of Allentown in part because he knows local priests Father Abraham Ha and Father John Hutta, and also as a way to help repay “the gift of faith that the Church in Vietnam received from Western missionaries in the past.”
He is one of six children, and a son of Nguyen Van Vinh and Tran Thi Xuyen. He is a member of the Cathedral Parish of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
“I am filled with peace,” he says of his decision to serve the Church more than 8,000 miles from his hometown of Nam Dinh, Vietnam. “I feel at home here.”
Miguel M. Ramirez
Miguel Ramirez, 29, has known he wanted to be a priest since he was a little boy in Mexico.
But he ended up here – living in Reading and studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary – because of a chance meeting with Monsignor Thomas Orsulak and Sister Eloina Alvarez shortly after he and his family arrived in this country.
“They helped us join St. Peter the Apostle Parish, and they helped get us settled. Catholic Charities helped too,” he said.
“I remember being at Mass when I was about 10, and the priest elevated the Host. I felt something in my heart, like a fire. It was then that the Lord planted the seed for my vocation,” he said.
He is the son of Miguel Ramirez and Odelina Espinoza.
Aaron R. Scheidel
Aaron Scheidel, 25, of St. Benedict Parish, Mohnton, was not sure he wanted to be a priest when he first entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary – and that’s a message he wants other young men to hear.
“Some people have the idea that you must be sure about your vocation right from the beginning,” he said. “That’s not the case.
“God puts the question on your heart, but then you have to find out – does God really want me to be a priest, and do I really want to be a priest? The best place to do that is in the seminary,” he said.
Scheidel has a variety of hobbies, from board games with his fellow seminarians, to painting miniature models, to spending the day splitting firewood with his family. He also worked for several summers for an Amish construction company.
One of five children, he was homeschooled and is a son of Rebecca and Adam Scheidel.
Photo: Those about to be ordained transitional deacons are, left to right, Miguel Ramirez, Nikolai Brelinsky, Keaton Eidle, Aaron Scheidel, and Van-Vien Nguyen