For men studying to be priests, the years in seminary are full of classes, lectures and examinations all meant to help them discern what Jesus wants in their lives.
But beyond the academic aspect of the seminary, there is another crucial aspect of priestly formation: spiritual direction.
This fall, one of the Bismarck Diocese’s own will begin assisting in this important role at
in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo.
Fr. Paul Eberle was recently assigned to be a spiritual director at the institution, which consists of a minor and major seminary. Spiritual directors are assigned to individual seminarians after they begin studying at both minor and major seminary. The spiritual director’s role is to meet with the seminarian on a regular basis throughout the school year, acting as a spiritual guide and a confessor for the man studying to be a priest.
It’ll be a natural fit for Fr. Eberle, who, along with many priests of the Diocese of Bismarck, is a graduate of Kenrick-Glennon. In addition, spiritual direction is nothing new to Fr. Eberle. He underwent training in spiritual direction through the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) from 2008-2011. The training, which consists of three weeks each year for one week at a time, equipped Fr. Eberle with the tools necessary for his new role.
The call for Fr. Eberle to become a spiritual director at Kenrick-Glennon came from Fr. John Horn, rector of the seminary. Fr. Horn knew of Fr. Eberle’s training and experience in spiritual direction through IPF and contacted Bishop Kagan to ask if Fr. Eberle could be released from the diocese for a period of three to four years to become a spiritual director at the seminary. Bishop Kagan then called Fr. Eberle, let him know of the request and asked Fr. Eberle to pray about and discern the invitation.
“In praying and discerning, I came to understand how deeply I will miss parish life in these next years, but I felt God asking me to say ‘yes’ to this request,” Fr. Eberle commented. “I am just grateful to do whatever the Lord wants me to do.”
Father Eberle will not be without connection to a parish when he takes his new assignment; as a spiritual director at the seminary, he will have the opportunity to assist at parishes in the St. Louis area on weekends.
Fr. Eberle will arrive at Kenrick-Glennon in time for orientation week – about mid-August – and begin his new assignment at that time. After Fr. Eberle fulfills his three to four year commitment to Kenrick-Glennon, he will be back in the Diocese of Bismarck.
In asking Fr. Eberle what he is most looking forward to in his new appointment, he answered, “…being a spiritual father. As a pastor, a priest is asked to be a spiritual father to the parishioners under his care. Seminary life is very similar. A spiritual director is asked to be a spiritual father to the seminarians under his care.
“The formation of future priests is a very important role and I am humbled to be a part of that. We are all instruments in the hand of God.”
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