Sacraments attract seminarianFamily's conversion to Catholicism eventually led to the seminary
Fourth in a series about the diocese's seminarians
By Sarah Malcore
The Catholic Church has long taught that parents are the primary educators of their children. For Joel Sember, a third-year seminarian for the Green Bay Diocese, that worked in a variety of ways.
Sember was home schooled through high school. And when he was 12, his father rediscovered his Catholic faith. When that happened, the entire Sember family became active in the church, and Joel was drawn to the Mass.
"Initially I was attracted by the power of the sacraments, especially confession," said Sember. "It is a feeling that I am being called, that I would only be truly happy if I at least give (seminary) an honest shot. I feel especially attracted to the lifestyle of a priest."
Sember was encouraged by many of the older members of the parish. Often they told him he would "make such a good priest," or asked "Have you considered becoming a priest?"
The good-natured remarks of the women in his parish got him thinking. The more he thought about it, the more appealing the idea became to him.
When Sember was a junior in high school, he started to consider attending a college seminary. But he was still a bit uncertain about what he should do about his future.
"I was unsure and suspected it (priesthood) was the right thing to do. It takes a good deal of courage to hand over planning your life to God instead of planning what you want."
Sember knew he had to at least look into seminary. He attended the campus open house in the fall of his senior year in high school. He liked the seminary environment and decided to enter the seminary in order to better discern what God is calling him to do.
Sember, who is in his third year at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, is enjoying it. His favorite part of seminary is the camaraderie.
"It is tough to find quality guys to be friends with," Sember explains. "Seminary is a place that I can find people who share my values, and accept me for who I am. Sometimes, all the extra activities seminarians are expected to participate in can become a bit much, but those programs are there for the seminarian's benefit."
Sember's support comes from his family, especially his parents who respect priesthood as a vocation. They value priesthood, and say they are proud that not only Joel, but their other son Ben - Joel's twin brother - have chosen priesthood as their vocation.
In his spare time, Sember enjoys biking, racquetball, basketball, and writing WebPages. He does not have much time to watch television, but when he does, he likes to watch the X-Files.
For a good dinner, Sember goes to Perkin's, and his favorite meal is spaghetti. Sember also does some reading when he can, and enjoyed the Lord of Rings trilogy.
Coming soon will be a semester studying abroad. He will spend spring 2001 semester studying in Rome.
For other men thinking of priesthood, Sember suggests that they "remember that priests are not regular guys. Regular guys are priests. They are human beings that have been chosen as special messengers of God. It is important to know some priests personally. Priests have the same struggles as regular people, and I think that anyone discerning priesthood needs to know that."
It is important that a man follows what he feels is right, Sember said. "Many people think that priesthood is a fine decision, for someone else. They will not accept the idea for their own self, or for someone close to them. If God is calling you, do not let that attitude affect your decision. You must grow and go your own way. It can be tough to accept who you are, and what you are called to be. God calls you to complete who you are, and bring out the best you."
(Malcore is an intern in the diocesan Vocations Office.)
Who: Joel Sember.
What: Third year college seminary student.
Where: St. John Vianney College Seminary on the St. Thomas University campus in St. Paul.
Background: Sember and his twin brother, Ben, were born in 1980 in New York. Sember's family moved several times during his childhood including time in Virginia and North Carolina. Sember's family settled in New Holstein, where they still reside. He also has a younger sister and four younger brothers.
Home Parish: Sacred Heart, Sherwood.
Parents: James Sember, an engineering manager for Kohler Co. and Marion Sember, who runs a full-time child care and education facility, as well as livestock barns, home economics classes, and food-service planning.
Interested: For more information on vocations to priesthood or religious life, phone Fr. Doug LeCaptain at (920)437-7531 or toll-free at 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8293, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to learn more about the other seminarians, please email your name and address to email@example.com or call (920)437-7531, ext. 8287, to receive a free book about all the seminarians.