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Name: Deacon Michael Pleva

Date of Birth: December 2, 1994

Hometown: Altoona

Home Parish: Holy Rosary Parish in Altoona

Seminary: Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe

Parish Assignment:  Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown

Personal Interests: Theology, psychology, sports, and exercising.

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood? I feel called to the priesthood because I desire to share the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to all His people through the sacraments and a holy way of life.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood? Our God calls ordinary men to do extraordinary things for His people. Do not allow fear or irrational thoughts of unworthiness hinder your discernment. Remember to pray often, seek spiritual direction from a priest, and attend the sacraments.

Name: Deacon Mark Groeger

Date of Birth: May 17, 1958

Hometown: Somerset

Home Parish: St. Peter Parish in Somerset

Seminary: Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe

Parish Assignment:  Sacred Heart and Saint Mary Parishes in Altoona

Personal Interests: I love Rottweilers andhorses. I enjoy playing tennis, watching Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey, Pittsburgh Steeler Football, and Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball. I’m an avid DCI fan and have been a member of the Maroon & Gold Club supporting the Cadets for a number of years. I also enjoy spending time with my family and being at the Beach.

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood? I’ve always loved working with people. I’ve had a very rewarding career in health care for a number of years which has afforded me the opportunity to help people. I feel God has blessed me through these life experiences and is calling me to service to share and help others in a spiritual way.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood? Open your heart to the will of God. Pray, be patient and listen. He will speak to your heart. The joy and peace you experience when you hear him is overwhelming.

Name: Brian Norris

Date of Birth: April 30, 1995

Hometown: Duncansville

Home Parish: Saint Mary Parish in Hollidaysburg

Seminary: Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore

2020 Summer Assignment:   Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Johnstown

Personal Interests: Anything Football related, reading, and weightlifting

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood? I feel called to the priesthood in the Altoona Johnstown Diocese in order to serve the people and the local diocesan church. I have felt a more or less consistent call to the priesthood since I attended Camp Zacchaeus in 8th grade. Now as a young adult, I see our local choice in vocational need and I could not, in good conscience, wait on pursuing my possible diocesan priest vocation. I feel that if I am truly called to be a priest, that I owe it to our local church to discern my call now enabling me to give as much of my life to the church as possible.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood? Do not try to rule out the seminary while living in the secular world. You cannot rule out a life that you have not experienced. Instead try to rule out a secular life while living in the secular world, and then give the seminary a chance. My pastor, Father Anthony J. Legarski, gave this advice to me, and thus far that is the best advice I have received in regards to discernment.

Name: Justin Treon

Date of Birth: October 11, 1994

Hometown: Cresson

Home Parish: Saint Aloysius Parish in Cresson

Seminary: Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe

2020 Summer Assignment:   Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Bellefonte and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Spring Mills

Personal Interests: Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Reading, and Learning

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood? I love working with people, and I love God and my Catholic faith. So, I feel God calling me to help people come to know Him through the Church as one of His priests. In addition, I feel God calling me to help people come to love the Catholic faith as I have, which is one of the ways in which I will be a fisher of men.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood? When discerning a vocation to the priesthood, it is important to remember that prayer and the sacraments are very important. A connection with Jesus is key. Frequent reception of the Eucharist at Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation are very important for anyone discerning a vocation. These are prime examples of Christ’s mercy towards us, for mercy is an important characteristic all priests should have.

Name: Jacob Gindhart

Date of Birth: December 4, 1997

Hometown: State College

Home Parish: Queen of Peace Parish, Patton

Seminary:  Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore

Personal Interests: Playing/writing music, DJing, playing all sports, coaching basketball, and weightlifting.

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood?   I feel called to the priesthood because I have never felt a greater peace in my life than the moment I opened my heart fully to God’s will that I might be a priest someday. After months and months of God tugging at my heart, and trying to be open through prayer and the sacraments, I was able to see that the gifts and experiences God has given me are leading me to the priesthood, and all that was left was my yes to Him.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood?   My advice to a man considering the priesthood is to stay fully open to God’s will, not just with your mind and words but sincerely with your heart through your actions. It’s not enough to say you’re open; you have to believe that and show God that by attending discernment days, emailing your vocations director, and reading discernment materials. Remember that fear does not come from God! He will not call you to a vocation that He will not also give you the strength to live fully and happily. Finally, always continue grow closer to Christ through the sacraments, adoration, and spiritual reading/music. It is the easiest to hear and understand someone when you are close to them, and Christ is no exception!

Name: Clayton Housler

Date of Birth: August 11, 1995

Hometown: St. Marys, PA

Home Parish: Sacred Heart Parish in St. Marys

Seminary:  Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore

Personal Interests: I like to spend some of my free time in the outdoors and doing things to keep in good shape such as sports, recreation, and lifting weights.

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood?   I feel called to the priesthood because God is in need of strong warriors who are willing to fight for the souls of His people; and I feel that I am someone who has been called to take on the challenge because I, with His grace, can be an instrument of Christ’s salvation to many.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood?   The advice I would give to those who are discerning is to first not be afraid of such a calling, for God is your strength; the second piece of encouragement is to be solid in prayer and virtue, so as to more clearly listen and respond to what it is the Lord is asking of you. It will happen in God’s time, so be patient and like Saint John Paul II says, “When you respond, do not be afraid.”

Name: John Roy

Date of Birth: November 14, 1997

Hometown: Johnstown

Home Parish: Saint Andrew Parish in Johnstown

Seminary:  Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe

Personal Interests: I enjoy canoeing, kayaking and hiking.  I like playing baseball, watching Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Marvel movies, playing board games, and spending time with my family.

Why do you feel called to the Priesthood?.  I want to bring people to Christ and Christ to people.  I want to be available to offer the Sacraments for the faithful of His Church, and to help people along our path through this life, to find Jesus who is the Way to Life everlasting.  I want to commit my life to this, to sharing Christ’s love with others.  I have a deep love for Our Mother Mary, and for the Holy Eucharist, and I want to share this love with others and to help to cultivate a sense of amazement and appreciation for these amazing gifts that we have been given from God in the Holy Catholic Church.

What advice would you give to a man considering the Priesthood?  

First I’d say what a seminarian whom I met in high school once said to me, when I was considering a vocation to the priesthood.  He said to me: “Follow the peace.”  Adding onto that, I would say that sometimes it takes time to become more certain of one’s vocation.  If the call is persistent over time, and you feel at peace about moving forward, then go for it.  If you are not at peace, then pray for God to show you where he wants you right now, and be patient.  This leads to an important point: Prayer.  Ask our Lord and our Lady to help you in your discernment, and do not focus exclusively on discernment during prayer time.  I wasted many hours in high school, “thinking” about my calling throughout the whole of prayer time.  It is necessary to think about it, but it should not consume the whole of prayer time.  When you pray, focus on growing closer to Jesus, praising and thanking him for your life, and pray for others and the grace to help others.  Then, bring your discernment to Him as one aspect of your life.  Yes it is a big one, but it is not the only one, and we need to put our personal relationship with our Lord first, and then discern within that context.  This will help lead to that peace and perhaps help us to quietly come to a realization of our vocation.  Sometimes when we relax and are more at peace about our discernment, God is able to more easily and gradually guide us to where he wants us to be, when we are not constantly playing tug of war inside of our minds and in our hearts. Finally, realize there are many out there willing to listen and to help you on your journey, and in fact we need each others’ help and the help of our current priests to discern our vocation and follow the Will of God!  Reach out to someone in our diocese that you trust or whom someone recommends and whom you know is willing to talk with you, whether that be our vocations director: Father Peter Crowe, or your pastor, or another priest that you know and trust very well.  Pray about that step, and then take it!  The priest you choose to talk to will not pressure you or try to talk you into it.  Rather, he will listen to your experience of discernment and help you to sort through your fears and doubts, your hopes and prayers, your questions, and help to guide you as you prayerfully seek God’s Will for the next step you are called to take.  Also, know that there are many out there praying for you too!  I will be praying for you!  Feel free to reach out to me or any of the other seminarians as well!  We are always glad to talk!  God bless you!
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