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June 22, 2020

Contact: Andrew Hansen

***NOTE: This news release has individual stories/quotes from each new priest allowing you to use what matters to your audience. This is the list of the eight new priests, where they are from, and where they will begin in the diocese on July 1 for a quick, easy reference:***

Father Michael Meinhart – from Dieterich; first assignment in Edwardsville
Father Michael Berndt – from Quincy; first assignment in Springfield
Father David Beagles – from Springfield; first assignment in Quincy
Father Peter Chineke – from Nigeria; first assignment in Springfield
Father Dominic Vahling – from Teutopolis; first assignment in Springfield
Father Michael Trummer – from Neoga; first assignment in Decatur
Father Piotr Kosk – from Poland; first assignment in Highland
Father Pawel Luczak – from Poland’ first assignment in Quincy

PICTURES: This link https://go.dio.org/2020ordination has a portrait picture of each priest and a picture during the ordination Mass you can download for use. Please credit Paul Hafel for photos from the ordination.

Biggest priest class since 1964: Eight men ordained to priesthood in Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

Springfield – The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has eight new priests, the largest class of newly- ordained priests since 1964. The priests, who represent a wide spectrum of ages and backgrounds and who come from different parts of the diocese and the globe, were ordained by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“This is a very exciting time for our diocese,” said Father Brian Alford, vocations director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “I have been privileged to witness a growing culture of vocations in our diocese over the past several years, and these men are the fruit of that culture. The support shown to them by the people of the diocese has been great to see. I also believe the support that our seminarians get from the priests of our diocese, in addition to their faithful, joyful witness to the priesthood, has maybe been one of the most positive things that has contributed to this culture.”

Over the past decade, the diocese has averaged about three men being ordained per year. Fathers Michael Meinhart (Dieterich), Michael Berndt (Quincy), David Beagles (Springfield), Peter Chineke (Nigeria), Dominic Vahling (Teutopolis), and Michael Trummer (Neoga) were ordained June 19. Fathers Pawel Luczak and Piotr Kosk of Poland were ordained May 2. They all start their new assignments July 1 in parishes throughout the diocese.

Father Michael Meinhart

The priesthood was on the heart of Father Michael Meinhart from a young age. Just after graduating from Teutopolis High School in 2012, he entered the seminary right away.

“When I entered seminary eight years ago, a priest gave me these wise words: ‘The days will be long, but the years will fly by.’ That has been so true in my experience,” Father Meinhart said. “Formation for the priesthood has been long — eight years — but it has also been a joy that has flown by. I have enjoyed coming to know God, myself, and my church in a deeper way through it all.” 

Father Meinhart calls St. Isidore the Farmer in Dieterich his home parish. His first assignment will be St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville.

“I am really looking forward to full-time ministry in a parish with the people of God,” he said. “The parish has been the most life-giving place for me throughout the years of seminary formation, and I am looking forward to being assigned somewhere within the diocese full time. I will be able to enter into the rhythm of parish life and will stay far beyond August when the academic year begins again. It is in the parish that priests get to live life with their people.”

Father Michael Berndt

After studying among the saints in Rome for several years at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Father Michael Berndt is ecstatic to begin his priestly vocation at Christ the King Parish in Springfield. When asked to summarize his journey, he said it is “serendipitous — finding joy where it is not sought.”

“For my part, all I do is say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that arise — it is not complicated, but it can be difficult at times,” Father Berndt said. “First, the ‘yes’ to the priestly vocation after (somewhat) avoiding it from the ages of 18-26, and since joining the seminary, it has been an adventure. Not knowing what is around the corner is exciting for me. God has a magnificent capacity to surprise, and he has been so good to me.”

Father Berndt grew up in Chicago, graduating from Quincy University in 2010. After working in the secular world for many years in Quincy, he heard God’s call. He says he is most looking forward to being with the people.

“Helping them see that they are loved by God and helping them to return that love simply by being with them, knowing their stories, lending an ear, learning from them, having good conversations, teaching, preaching, enjoying meals together, experiencing ordinary encounters on the street, and perhaps most especially through the celebration of the sacraments,” he said.

Father Berndt calls St. Francis Solanus in Quincy his home parish.

Father David Beagles

At 63 years old, Father David Beagles isn’t your typical vocation to the priesthood. Spending most of his life living in Springfield and working in state government, Father Beagles’ home parish is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His first assignment will be St. Francis Solanus Parish in Quincy.

“My journey toward priesthood at my age has been a study in God’s abiding mercy and steadfast goodness, often shown through the prayerful support and example of family and friends, especially my parents,” Father Beagles said. “The formal formation (seminary) journey has been a tremendous growth experience in God's compassion, and a swiftly-passing time of wonderful learning in the realm of the four pillars: the spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral. I have especially learned God longs for a true relationship with each of us.”

Father Beagles says he wants to promote Christ-centered values in our modern world and can’t wait to get started.

“I am looking forward to humbly serving God’s people; celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, including preaching the Good News of Our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection, and — most of all — his loving mercy,” he said. “I hope, also, to promote the profound gift we have in our loving Blessed Mother, including in her most holy rosary.”

Father Peter Chineke

Growing up in Nigeria, Father Peter Chineke’s road to the United States and our diocese is simply providential. Chineke says it was after secondary school in his home country that he began to discern a vocation to the priesthood. He first joined a religious community in Nigeria in 2010. Two years later, he went to the Philippines to continue religious life and seminary formation as a missionary. He says that “divine providence brought him to the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

“My journey to the priesthood has been one of grace and wonderment,” Father Chineke said. “Judging by human standards and otherworldly privileges, I do not deserve the joy and blessings that characterize my life all these years.”

Father Chineke now calls Blessed Sacrament in Springfield his home parish. His first assignment will be at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.

“I’m looking forward to journeying with people as a father and a friend and celebrating the sacraments for them and with them,” he said. “The privilege to sit at the confessional, celebrate baptisms and marriages, visit and anoint the sick and the senior citizens, and celebrate the holy Eucharist is a blessing I am eagerly looking forward to.”

Father Dominic Vahling

Father Dominic Vahling knew he wanted to be a priest from a young age. After graduating from Teutopolis High School, he went straight into the seminary.

“I have grown and matured a lot in the past eight years, and some school years seemed longer than others,” Father Vahling said. “However, it seems like each year in seminary has been even better and more joyful, as I grew closer to God and got a better picture of what ministry looks like.”

Father Vahling, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Teutopolis, will soon call Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception home for his first assignment.

“I am looking forward to many aspects of the priesthood,” he said. “I think first and foremost, I am looking forward to celebrating the Eucharist and the sacrament of penance. I am also excited to be immersed in the life of a parish with a regular schedule of preaching the Word of God. “

Father Michael Trummer

Growing up in Neoga in Cumberland County, Father Michael Trummer was interested in science, nutrition, and video production. While at Eastern Illinois University, he left campus and studying chemistry and joined the seminary.

“It has been an adventure,” Father Trummer said. “It has been an adventure drawing closer to God and learning more about him, which also means there has been an adventure in discovering myself. It has been fascinating to see tremendous growth in myself and others throughout the formation process. It is also fascinating that even though there has been much change, I feel more truly myself than ever before. God has been preparing me to make a fuller gift of myself to him and his church.”  

A parishioner of St. Mary the Assumption in Neoga, Father Trummer’s first assignment will be Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Decatur.

“I am looking forward to being able to celebrate the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist,” he said. “I am also excited to do that in the context of a parish. It will be life-giving to get more invested in the lives of the families of a parish, but to do both together is something I know will be tremendously life-giving. I have yet to have the experience of being invested and surrounded in a parish full-time, apart from a few summers. As a priest, I will have the opportunity to get to know parishioners even more, and I will do so as a spiritual father.”

Father Trummer’s brother, Deacon Chris Trummer, was ordained a deacon June 19 by Bishop Paprocki. 

Father Piotr Kosk

Father Piotr Kosk grew up in Poland. He attended seminary in Warsaw immediately after high school. Originally, he was designated to be an army chaplain as he grew up in a military family. But the Holy Spirit had other plans.

“In 2016, at the urging of a bishop from the United States, I came to Chicago, where I spent a year learning English,” Father Kosk said. “A year later, I continued my studies at the Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich. The time of my preparation was wonderful; it allowed me to develop intellectually, spiritually, and as a human. Over the past seven years I have met wonderful people, I have good friends all over the world and definitely in every corner of the United States. Despite the fact that my family lives in Europe, there are loving people for whom I am a son or brother in the United States.”

Father Kosk now calls Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Mt. Zion his home parish. He says he knows being a priest will not be easy, but he believes that he was chosen by God to be a priest. His first assignment will be at St. Paul Parish in Highland.

“I want to be a priest who will be led by the Holy Spirit,” he said. “As a man, I am weak and sinful but with God I can move mountains. I would like everyone who meets me to say that God is upon me and that I am a good shepherd.”

Father Pawel Luczak

Father Pawel Luczak hails from Warsaw, Poland. Little did Luczak know that God had an international plan for him.

“I would say it was long spiritual journey where I was traveling through ‘deserted places and fruitful lands,’ but my journey is not completed,” Father Luczak said. “I just finished one of its stages, and I am looking forward to being on track of fulfilling God's way.”

St. Anthony of Padua in Quincy is Father Luczak’s home parish. His first assignment will be St. Peter Parish in Quincy. He says he wants to bring people to Christ and sanctify his own life through fulfilling his vocation to the priesthood.

“For me it is about building a personal relationship with Christ,” he said. “I want to be close to him — as close as possible — and I want to share and lead others to that relationship.”