What's Happening...
June 18 - 21, 2017
Jeremiah Days
Bishop Lane Retreat Center (For Boys)
July 16 - 19, 2017
St. Therese Camp and Retreat
Bishop Lane Retreat Center (For Girls)
July 23 - 26, 2017
First Call Retreat
Bishop Lane Retreat Center (For Boys)
 
 

Meet Our Seminarians

Thank you for your interest in the seminarians of our Diocese. They are fine men who desire to serve God and the people of northern Illinois.

Please pray for these men, that they remain open to the lead of God in their lives. You might want to write or e-mail them from time to time to remind them of your prayers.

Thanks for all you do to support our seminarians and to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life!

4th Theology

Colin Easton

Seminary: University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL
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Bobby Gonnella

Seminary: University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL
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3rd Theology

John Kladar

Seminary: Pontifical North American College, Rome
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Jhonatan Sarmiento

Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN
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Pastoral Year

Jack Bjork

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Aaron Downing

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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2nd Theology

Robert Blood

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Nick Sentovich

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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Charles Warren

Seminary: University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL
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1st Theology

Jack Reichardt

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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1st Pre-Theology

Nate Pacer

Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN
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4th College

Miles Monaco

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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John McFadden

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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James Linkenheld

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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3rd College

Michael Gehrig

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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2nd College

Jacob Timm

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Joshua Moore

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Connor Orabutt

Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
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Ben Pfundstein

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Tim Schroeder

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Scotty Girolamo

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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1st College

Ted Pfundstein

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Evan Timm

Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
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Colin Easton


Seminary: University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL
Year: 4th Theology
Home Parish: St. Bridget Parish, Loves Park, IL
Interests: Traveling, Camping and Outdoor Life, Photography, History
Favorite Saint: Mother Mary, St. Padre Pio, St. Charbel, St. Paul of the Cross, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Francis, St. John Vianney, St. Thérèse and the Carmelites
 
Vocation Story: I would say that my vocation story began from the time when I was very young, as I always seemed to have an interest in Church and religion. This naturally led myself, a cradle Catholic, to an interest in becoming an altar boy at an early age. Serving at the altar of Christ and hearing priests and many other people constantly say to me, “you would make a good priest someday” were the first seeds of a vocation that seemingly got buried from 5th -10th grade.

In the middle of my sophomore year things began to change though as I went on a high school youth retreat that exposed me to a life of discipleship and Christian community. I would say that I was a religious person in the preceding years of 5th-10th grade, but prayer was not deeply personal and Christ was not the first thing in my mind, nor was his Spirit filling my heart with his love. Instead those were years of rapid change as my family moved houses and school districts, and most of my time was spent trying to fit in, find friends, and play sports. God was waiting patiently in the background as a Father ready to strike my heart at the appointed time with his paternal love.
Contact Information: CEaston@RockfordDiocese.org

Bobby Gonnella


Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Year: 4th Theology
Home Parish: St. Patrick Parish, St. Charles, IL
Interests: Playing and Watching Sports (Especially Soccer and Hockey), Watching Movies, Playing Cards
Favorite Saint: Our Lady of Atima, St. Joseph, St. Philomena, St. Paul, St. John Vianney, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, St. Pope John Paul II, St. Clare
 
Vocation Story: The first time I thought about being a priest was when I was just a boy. My family was part of a very small parish in Kentucky, and we had a very holy priest there by the name of Fr. Tiell. He was a great example of what a priest should be and I was very attracted to the priesthood because of him.

It was not until high school, however, that I first thought seriously about being a priest. As a freshman, I was sure that I would go to the seminary right after I graduated high school. I was sure at that time in my life that I was called to be a priest. However, by the time I was a senior, I had changed my mind. I decided to go to Aurora University instead where I would study mathematics and play soccer. College was a very good experience for me which allowed me to realize the necessity of my faith and made me grow deeper in it.
Contact Information: RGonnella@RockfordDiocese.org

John Kladar


Seminary: Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State, Rome
Year: 3rd Theology
Home Parish: St. Peter Parish, South Beloit, IL
Interests: Music, Sports (Golf, Baseball, Football), Hunting, Movies, Reading Religious Books
Favorite Saint: St. Jerome, St. Gregory the Great, Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio, V. Fulton Sheen, Our Lady of Guadalupe
 
Vocation Story: I was the first of four kids born into a devout Catholic family. I have many childhood memories of going to Mass, and my father talking about the readings on the way to Church. Not only were many Rosaries said as a family, but throughout my young life my mother would read us stories of Saint lives and these made a big impact on me, especially the ones concerning Saints that gave their lives for the Faith. As a homeschooler my parents had the freedom of being able to incorporate Catholic influence into most of my subjects. I grew to love being an altar server at St. Peters. Looking back I remember someone asking me why I like to serve so often and my response was that I get the best seat in the church to watch the priest say Mass and observe the consecration. I would say during this time I definitely considered being a priest, and the many positive examples of priests, not only at my parish, but also throughout the diocese, played a major role in this. I looked up to them and wanted to be like them and serve the church with the same strength, holiness, and masculinity that they did. Then again, the ambition of a little kid goes away as he gets older right?
Contact Information: JKladar@RockfordDiocese.org

Jhonatan Steven Sarmiento Sierra


Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Year: 3rd Theology
Home Parish: St. Anthony of Padua, Colombia
Interests: Reading, Cineart (Film-Movies), Learning History, Travel, Cooking, Carmelite Spirituality
Favorite Saint: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Ignatius of Loyola
 
Vocation Story: My name is Jhonatan Steven Sarmiento Sierra and I was born in Colombia. When I was 14 I started serving as an altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Cúcuta. After a couple of years, I began to wonder if the Lord was asking me to do more than just serve at Mass. During my high school years, I began to search for a way to address my own concerns about the world around me. I thought about the priesthood during my last years of high school in 2004, but instead of pursuing seminary, I decided to work and to discern more about this calling. In 2007, I joined the Carmelite Order in Colombia where I nurtured my vocation with the great examples of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. To be in the Carmelite formation was a wonderful experience, but after my second year of formation I decided to leave because I realized that my vocation was not as a religious priest.
Contact Information: JSarmiento@RockfordDiocese.org

Jack Bjork


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: Pastoral Year
Home Parish: St. Mary Parish, Woodstock, IL
Interests: Reading Biographies, Cooking, Fishing, Watching Football or Wrestling
Favorite Saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila
 
Vocation Story: My journey towards the priesthood began about four years ago. I believe God has been calling me to the priesthood my entire life but I did not listen well enough the majority of my life. I have grown up in Woodstock, Illinois since I was three years old, and have gone to Sunday Mass each week my entire life. Growing up and going to public high school I never thought the priesthood would be for me. In middle school and going into high school I pretty much lived just an average life playing baseball, and football going into high school, while on the side I was working towards a black belt in karate, and also going to confirmation classes.

After I was confirmed my sophomore year of high school I began to lose a lot of motivation towards school work and baseball. For the main reason that I just didn’t feel like I had any direction in my life. Soon enough though I got through high school and was off to my first year in college. My main objective going to McHenry County College was just to have fun. This seems to be a cultural idea that college and life is just to have fun and do what you want. It took me about two years to realize that I was headed down the wrong path; I was missing God in my life. Previously throughout my sophomore year of college my mom had given me a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to place above my bed. I never thought anything of it, but I just left it up above my bed.
Contact Information: JBjork@RockfordDiocese.org

Aaron Downing


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: Pastoral Year
Home Parish: St. Peter Parish, South Beloit, IL
Interests: Choir, Archery, Swimming, Spiritual Reading
Favorite Saint: St. John Vianney and St. Pope John Paul II
 
Vocation Story: My vocation story starts between my sophomore and junior year in high school. My parent had fallen away from the church at a fairly young age. I returned to the church during my sophomore year in high school. The feeling that I felt when I returned to the church was that I belonged here and that God wants to share his merciful love with me. The next thing I know I am was taking private Religious Education lessons with the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Beloit, WI.

After a month or so of these classes I found out what Adoration was and soon fell in love with Christ. During the summer months I was working at Hononegah Community High school and one of the secretary there, who is Catholic, asked me, “Aaron are you going to become a priest because you spend most of your time volunteering for different events and you are spending a significant amount of time at the Adoration Chapel.” My reply: “No I’m new at this whole Catholic thing,”
Contact Information: ADowning@RockfordDiocese.org

Robert Blood


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 2nd Theology
Home Parish: St. Bridget Parish, Loves Park, IL
Interests: Reading Biographies, Cooking, Fishing, Watching Football or Wrestling
Favorite Saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila
 
Vocation Story: My vocation story begins in third grade, or so my Mother tells me. I dressed up as St. Robert Bellarmine for Halloween and explained to a few different people how he was a Cardinal and how that was different than a bishop. She said she could see a vocation in me then, but the journey I can recall began in fifth grade. I would always watch the altar servers at my parish and signed up as soon as I was allowed. My pastor at the time, Msgr. Mitchell trained us and he was very clear about how respectful we needed to be. Although I was young this guidance helped me to take the Mass more seriously. I stopped going to Mass and finally began to attend Mass. I paid very close attention so I didn’t miss anything and I volunteered for every Mass I could. I also began making thanksgivings after Mass and that made all the difference. At St. Bridget’s during the consecration the servers knelt in front of the altar, so it definitely centered my attention on the Eucharist. In 7th grade I knelt there very much like I had done many times before, but it hit me. I could sense God wanted me to think about the priesthood. As all 7th graders do, I avoided any thoughts of “adulthood” except for the fact I did mention it to my mom. For the next 4 years priests would mention the idea of seminary to me, and in confession priests would remind me to pray about it.
Contact Information: RBlood@RockfordDiocese.org

Nick Sentovich


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: 2nd Theology
Home Parish: Holy Family Parish, Rockford, IL
Interests: Movies, Politics, Reading, the Green Bay Packers
Favorite Saint: St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed John Henry Newman
 
Vocation Story: My vocation story begins in my middle school years. From a young age, my family was involved with the Church. My dad worked for the Diocese of Rockford for about 15 years. In addition to that and my family’s involvement at Holy Family Catholic Church, I was exposed in a mostly positive way to a good community with good priests.

As a result of this exposure, I think God used that as a stepping stone to a calling for me. Through my days of altar serving, working at the Church, and being around priests of loved Jesus it gave me an awareness of what the Church has to offer. I always looked up to priests and had good relationships with them as a result of my family. Not everything in the Church has always been positive, but the good that I have experienced has given me an understanding of the importance of good priests. This need in the Church for good and holy men who love Christ and desire to serve his people has over the years increased my love for the Church and has influenced my vocation. This was also coupled with many people asking me if I had thought of the priesthood and encouraging me to do so.
Contact Information: NSentovich@RockfordDiocese.org

Charles Warren


Seminary: University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, IL
Year: 2nd Theology
Home Parish: St. Rita Parish, Rockford, IL
Interests: Film Production, Playing Sports and Music
Favorite Saint: Mary, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi
 
Vocation Story: Love,

Found in just about every song on the radio.
Used to describe food/places/other things that cannot be loved.
A word most people are afraid to use to describe those closest to them.

This word has become my vocation story because in the same way I grew in my understanding of this word, I grew in my understanding of how I am to live my life.

For most of my life "love" was a word that my classmates tried to live but couldn't. I saw short-lived relationships that ended because one or both persons could not grasp the fullness of love. I started thinking that love couldn't happen for someone my age and that it was something to be pursued later in life. College was a culture shock, not for a lack of love, because I met people who were getting engaged, I met faculty who actually cared about the problems their students were going through, and I met men who loved the Church.
Contact Information: CWarren@RockfordDiocese.org

Jack Reichardt


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: 1st Theology
Home Parish: Holy Family Parish, Rockford, IL
Interests: Running, Cycling, Spiritual Reading, Traveling, Dancing, Music
Favorite Saint: St. John Neumann and St. Pope John Paul II
 
Vocation Story: I was born in Hinsdale, Illinois on October 25, 1993 to a loving Catholic family. Since I was a child, I was immersed in the Catholic faith and morals I live my life by today. I attended Holy Family Catholic School from kindergarten through eighth grade and continued my education at Boylan Central Catholic High School. I now am blessed to attend St. John Vianney College Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

For me, the idea of the priesthood came as a complete surprise. The idea first came into my head while on a weekend retreat. I recall being in adoration when the thought entered my mind. It was as if my soul had been calmed and I thought, "I could see myself doing that [becoming a priest]." I believe this was God planting the seed of a vocation within my soul. Although I enjoyed this newfound thought, I had always been very interested in women and have had good relationships with them. Because of this, I had pushed the idea of the priesthood to the back of my mind. Throughout the rest of high school, my faith would continue to deepen through being involved in various parish activities, as well as many high school activities.
Contact Information: JReichardt@RockfordDiocese.org

Nate Pacer


Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Year: 1st Pre-Theology
Contact Information: NPacer@RockfordDiocese.org


Miles Monaco


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 4th College
Home Parish: St. Mary Parish, Huntley, IL
Interests: Hockey, Chicago Blackhawks, Reading
Favorite Saint: St. John Vianney, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Sebastian
 
Vocation Story: In today’s modern society, the need for priests is overwhelming. The world has become a very dark and morally confused place. The ultimate reason I want to enter the Catholic Priesthood is to be a solution to this problem, to be an administrator of the sacraments and part of a tradition and brotherhood that has endured plagues, war, scandals, and persecution even to the point of death. The way I heard it explained is that there is a crisis in Priesthood and in marriage. Which will you make the greatest difference in? After much prayer and consideration, the answer appears to be Priesthood.

There wasn't any major signs of my vocation other than the fact that many people over the years would tell me I would make a good priest. However, I am not looking for an astounding revelation. If God is calling me to be a priest, so be it. I have thought about priesthood since I was 8 years old. However, it was an immature view of priesthood. I thought to myself “I would never want to be married” because I saw all the immorality and how many marriages end in divorce. I believed that there was no possible way anybody could have a happy marriage. However, I looked at my own parents and realized there are many people like them who realize marriage is about getting your spouse and children to heaven.
Contact Information: MMonaco@RockfordDiocese.org

John McFadden


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: 4th College
Home Parish: St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Crystal Lake, IL
Interests: Guitar, Totus Tuus, Spiritual Reading
Favorite Saint: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Joseph, and St. Paul
 
Vocation Story: I'm a cradle Catholic, coming from a family of four. Practicing the faith has been something my family has always done. As long as I can remember, we've gone to Mass every Sunday. People, since I was about 7 years old have been asking me if I've ever thought about being a priest, or suggesting to me I'd be a good priest. Often people I didn't know or recognize! Many times during my younger years had I thought, "oh no that couldn't be for me. I'm going to grow up and get married!" Little did I know the plans The Lord had for me.

When I was coming into my freshmen year, I went on a retreat, offered at my church for high school students, thankfully including incoming freshmen. I can still remember coming off of that retreat, having met Christ in such a deep profound personal way, that no words seemed adequate to describe what had happened over that weekend . I decided, that from that point on, I was going to pursue this as best I could. That was when the thought of priesthood first entered my mind. I continued thinking about it as I continued to.
Contact Information: JMcFadden@RockfordDiocese.org

James Linkenheld


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 4th College
Home Parish: St. James Parish, Belvidere, IL
Interests: Sports, Reading, Movies, Music
Favorite Saint: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Pope John Paul II
 
Vocation Story: In the spring semester of my sophomore year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was invited to a bible study. Before this, I had not been a great man of faith. I definitely was caught up in the college culture and the party atmosphere that is promoted. After becoming a member and going to bible study for a few weeks, I was asked into a more intense discipleship by the study leader. I was able to ask him questions and he led me toward a deeper faith, a more real faith. I was able to have a couple intense encounters with God before the semester ended and I went home for summer filled with zeal. I started a bible study of my own at my home parish of St. James, in Belvidere. Toward the end of this study and the summer, I started having these strange desires to do what I saw my pastor doing. I talked to him about it and he suggested discerning the priesthood. I went back to school with this but decided I wasn’t going to do that. I loved my job with the football team at school and focused on that.

That lasted about two months until God had other plans.
Contact Information: JLinkenheld@RockfordDiocese.org

Michael Gehrig


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: 3rd College
Home Parish: St. Thomas the Apostle, Crystal Lake, IL
Interests: Board/Card Games, Reading, Watching Movies & Sports, Outdoor Activities
Favorite Saints: St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II, and Mother Theresa
 
Vocation Story: Trusting God was a challenge for me early on in my life. How could God know what is best for me? He has no idea what I go through. Even though I spent my life in a loving Catholic family and attended Catholic schooling, I had walls up blocking me from fully loving God and letting him pour his love into my heart. I was pretty confident that I could work out my life on my own and that the plan I had laid out was better than anything God could have planned.
Contact Information: MGehrig@RockfordDiocese.org

Jacob Timm


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 2nd College
Home Parish: Holy Cross, Batavia, IL
Contact Information: JTimm@RockfordDiocese.org


Joshua Moore


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 2nd College
Home Parish: Holy Cross, Batavia, IL
Contact Information: JMoore@RockfordDiocese.org


Connor Orabutt


Seminary: St. John Vianney, Saint Paul, MN
Year: 2nd College
Home Parish: St. Margaret Mary, Algonquin, IL
Interests: Keeping up with all major league sports, playing ultimate frisbee, and playing rounds of disc golf.
Favorite Saints: St. Mary, St. Luke, and St. Jude
 
Vocation Story: I grew up in a Catholic family that always went to Mass on Sundays and routinely prayed together. As a result, being around priests and simply being in the church was not unusual for me; however, I had not made my faith my own until my freshman year of high school which is when I started becoming more involved with the Youth Ministry program at Saint Margaret Mary Parish. Also that year I fell in love with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and received the sacrament often which began the healing process of my relationship with God. One night during the summer following my freshman year I remember being in my room pondering what the future might hold for me, and one of the thoughts that made itself present in my head was the idea of being a priest. At first I was against this idea of becoming a priest because I did not see myself as worthy enough to carry out all the priesthood demanded. But my gut was telling me that priesthood was waiting for me whether I liked it or not.
Contact Information: COrabutt@RockfordDiocese.org

Ben Pfundstein


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 2nd College
Home Parish: St. Rita, Rockford, IL
Contact Information: BPfundstein@RockfordDiocese.org


Tim Schroeder


Seminary: St. John Vianney, St Paul, MN
Year: 2nd College
Contact Information: TSchroeder@RockfordDiocese.org


Scotty Girolamo


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 2nd College
Contact Information: SGirolamo@RockfordDiocese.org


Ted Pfundstein


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 1st College
Contact Information: TPfundstein@RockfordDiocese.org


Evan Timm


Seminary: St. Gregory the Great, Seward, NE
Year: 1st College
Contact Information: ETimm@RockfordDiocese.org


 
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