The St. Mary Deanery will be celebrating the ordination of 2 local men as priests this spring! Matt Keller of St. John’s Maria Stein is being ordained a priest with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (C.PP.S), and Jarred Kohn of St. Mary’s Philothea is being ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati! For both men the journey to become a priest started many years ago, from initial calling through seminary; but each one has taken a different path to the same goal.
Matt’s initial call to priesthood came from a JH career project where he interviewed the parish priest, then proceeded on through HS when he was invited to attend an ordination at the St. Charles Center. While many people experience the joy celebrating the sacrament of Marriage and the wedding reception, Matt was very moved by celebrating the religious profession and the following dinner with the religious community. After graduation from Marion Local HS in 2007, Matt joined the C.PP.S community in Dayton for initial formation and received his bachelor’s degree from St. Xavier University in Chicago. He also spent 15 months serving with Precious Blood communities across the country, but in particular 9 months in Cincinnati at the Church of the Resurrection, where he saw the spirit of hospitality in action. Matt then attended the Catholic Theological Union where he received his degree in theology and is now a transitional deacon. His ordination will be celebrated this spring June 9th at St. John’s in Maria Stein.
Fr. Steve Dos Santos (Vocations Director, C.PP.S) explained that while diocesan and religious order priests share the same mission of serving God’s people, priests from religious orders have a different “charism” or focus on their mission. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood focus on “reconciliation and renewal”. Matt expanded on this to state that the priests and brothers in the Precious Blood have a strong sense of community and support of each other; through community prayer as well as everyday activities like meals and recreation. “Many different hands God provides though this journey to priesthood” Matt stated, and he wants to thank all the people who have helped his formation; including his family, college professors and classmates, his brothers in community, the African-American community at Church of the Resurrection, and all the people who have been supporting him through their prayers.
Jarred Kohn (from St. Mary’s Philothea) first considered becoming a priest shortly after high school graduation during an evening of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During this time, he said “The Lord put it in my heart that I should become a priest”. So he started talking to Fr. Dan Schmitmeyer about vocations, and ended up starting his journey in 2009 by attending college seminary at Bishop Simon Brute Seminary in Indianapolis. After Jarred completed his degree in theology at Brute in 2013, he then applied for major seminary at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati. The major seminary program takes 5 years, and seminarians start with 2 years of theology followed by a pastoral year in a parish. During the following two years they study more theology and are ordained to the diaconate, then at the end of the last year are ordained priests.
Fr. Dan Schmitmeyer, the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said “the entire formation process is designed to help the man discern if God is calling him to be a priest and to help the Church know if the man is called to be a priest”. Through the formation process, the man has to ask to continue at the seminary and he must be invited to come back to the seminary every year. Jarred’s advice for anyone considering a vocation is to “continue praying, participating in Mass & sacraments, and find a spiritual director for guidance. After adequate prayer and discernment one should then follow the Lord's will which is the true longing of our hearts. The time spent discerning will be valuable even if you choose not to continue, as it will make you a better spouse and parent later in life.”
There are many people Jarred would like to thank for their support, especially his parents. He also acknowledged his fellow seminarians and the priests who have helped him on this path; in particular Fr. James Reutter at Our Lady of Victory in Delhi. Jarred is currently a transitional Deacon, and will be formally ordained a priest on May 19th at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati.
Congratulations to both Matt and Jarred from everyone in the St. Mary’s Deanery and thank you for your service to God’s people!