Catholic Herald staff
Isaiah Schick, 21, is a senior from Isanti, Minnesota, majoring in philosophy, theology and catechetics at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. Since entering college in August 2014, he’s also been a part of the Priestly Discernment Program, which provides support and formation for students discerning the priesthood. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books – particularly mystery novels – playing board games, spending time with friends and listening to music, especially anything by contemporary Christian artist Audrey Assad.
Q: I see you are interested in being a seminarian for the Diocese of Superior, although you are from Minnesota. What’s your background in this diocese?
A: My mother and her whole side of the family are from the Diocese of Superior. She grew up in downtown Superior, where my grandfather was a janitor at the chancery offices and the bishop’s residence. My parents got married at St. William’s in Foxboro, and we visited my grandparents in Superior most weekends growing up, meaning I attended Mass at either St. William’s or at Holy Assumption in South Superior for a significant portion of my childhood and teen years. It is kind of my spiritual home at this point. Add to that the experience of serving in the diocese for two summers as a Totus Tuus team member (2015 and 2017) and the fact that I fell in love with the people and the area even more, and it just seems like northern Wisconsin is where God is calling me to be.
Q: When did you join the Priestly Discernment Program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville? How does the program work?
A: I joined the Priestly Discernment Program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in eastern Ohio right away as a freshman in college (August 2014). Now I am in my fourth year here, and the program’s emphasis on formation in five dimensions (intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, human and fraternal) has made me more the man that God created me to be. The program is a sort of synthesis of the USCCB’s “Program for Priestly Formation” and of the household system of student life here at Franciscan University. While it is not a formal seminary, we do have formators, spiritual directors, and other mentors who help us to pursue a life of virtue and of authentic masculinity in the context of a group of about 40 men who live, eat, pray, and study together. I have formed some of the best friendships with men I have met in the program, some of whom are now in seminary, and some of whom are happily married and starting a family. The goal of the program is really to help the men to live the Christian life and to discern the vocation God has made their hearts for. To learn more about the Priestly Discernment Program, there is great information (including a recently produced video) here: https://www.franciscan.edu/pdp. To find out about the unique household system of student life at Franciscan: https://www.franciscan.edu/households.
Q: I see you are headed toward graduation – what’s your next step?
A: I will graduate in May, and I am looking forward to whatever God has in store for me. I am in the process of applying to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Superior at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. If the bishop and the seminary discern that that is God’s next step for me, then praise God. If they discern that God is calling me elsewhere at this time, I am hoping to find other employment in the Diocese of Superior working with the local church there in some other capacity to spread the Gospel of Christ.
Q: What is your advice for youths/young men who feel they may be called to a priestly vocation?
A: My advice to any young man who thinks they may be called to a priestly vocation would be to find a good environment to give that thought a proper consideration. Find a good spiritual director, and surround yourself with other men (whether they are discerning the same call or not) who will support you in prayer, in the sacramental life, and in the pursuit of masculine virtue. Vocation is not something you “figure out” on your own. It’s received in the context of the Body of Christ because it is how God made you to relate to that Body in a unique and particular way. Finally, focus on being solidified in your identity as a beloved son of the Father in Jesus. There is a sort of ladder that a man has to climb before finding out his vocation: Son, brother, husband and father. Only by learning to be a good son of the Father and a good brother to the men and women he is around will a man be able to identify in what capacity he is to be a husband and a father (in marriage or spiritually in the priesthood).
Q: Whether you become a priest or not, how is your formation enriching your spiritual life?
A: Whether or not I become a priest, I am extremely grateful for the formation I have received (and still am receiving.) in the Priestly Discernment Program. Here at Franciscan, in the context of the wonderful (and challenging) fraternal life in the program, I have learned what it really means, what it is, to live as a beloved son of the Lord and as a true brother to those around me in Christ.
The environment here has enabled me to get serious about pursuing virtue and about rooting out vice, which enables my prayer to be much more honest and intimate. The friars, and even the professors here, so often provide examples of lived holiness in joy and love that have allowed me to really believe it is possible for me to do the same and to desire that above all else. I think this formation sets me up to serve the Lord well as a priest, as a religious, or as a married man; wherever he leads me, I want to go.