Do you know someone over 30 who might have a vocation?
Some men mistakenly assume priesthood is not an option because they had been married, had children, lacked a college degree, or thought they were “too old” or “not good enough.” Deacon Steve Kramer, Director of Recruitment and Director of Homiletics, is hosting monthly Zoom “Meet & Greets” for men over 30 who might be wondering if God is calling them. These Zoom sessions are informal, no presentation, just bring your own coffee and questions. Deacon Steve can also be reached at email@example.com, 414-858-4767.
Sacred Heart has been helping to guide second career vocations since 1970. We invite you to register for one of the upcoming sessions, or to encourage someone you think might have a calling to sign-up. There is nothing to lose, but a lot to gain!
Dcn. Steve Kramer was interviewed on the Jesuitical podcast from American Media regarding how the Church is in need of younger deacons and older priests. To listen to the podcast, titled, “The church needs younger deacons–and older priests” click HERE!
Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about becoming a priest later in life? You are not alone. Click HERE to see answers to frequently asked questions.
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology: https://www.shsst.edu
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology: Highlights
Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Monica Misey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Priests of the Sacred Heart, “Dehonians,” vocations: http://dehoniansusa.org/vocations/
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee vocations: https://www.thinkpriest.org/Think-Priest.htm, https://www.archmil.org/Vocations.htm
Office of Deacon Formation, Archdiocese of Milwaukee: https://www.archmil.org/offices/Diaconate.htm
Religious discernment for women: https://www.archmil.org/Vocations/Womens-Religious.htm
Religious discernment for men: https://www.archmil.org/Vocations/mens-religious.htm
Lay ministry options: Contact Susan McNeil, Director, Office of Lay Ministry at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: https://www.archmil.org/ArchContacts/Susan-McNeil.htm
Fr. Javier Portillo, CMJ
Soy el Padre Javier Portillo de la Comunidad Misionera de Jesús, superior del Hermano Cristian Alfonso que está haciendo el programa de Inglés. Quiero agradecer por la oportunidad que nos están brindando. Cristian manifiesta lo contento que está con las clases, con los profesores, y con todas las personas ahí del seminario. Gracias por darle la oportunidad de estudiar un poco más, será de mucho provecho para él y para la Comunidad.
Dios les bendiga.
Padre Javier Portillo, CMJ
I am Father Javier Portillo from the Missionary Community of Jesus, superior of Brother Cristian Alfonso who is doing the English program. I want to thank you for the opportunity you are giving us. Cristian expresses how happy he is with the classes, with the professors, and with all the people there from the seminary. Thank you for giving him the opportunity to study a little more, it will be very useful for him and for the Community.
God bless you.
Father Javier Portillo, CMJ
Fr. Wilbert Colas (Diocese of El Paso, Texas)
“I give thanks to God for the fact that I am a true product of Sacred Heart Seminary. Everywhere I go I have to represent the school because without the school I don’t know where I would be today. I’m very grateful. And, I’m very proud of the school. I’m very proud of the school and I’m doing my best in ministry, even though it’s not easy but every day is a new day, and every day is a new opportunity, and every day is a new challenge. But, the fact is that I put God in my life, and Christ is in front of me and I am behind him, and he is guiding me. I am very happy in ministry. I give thanks to everybody from Milwaukee, first of all, you, teacher Dominic, Vicki that I had for English. You are very special to me and so are all of the teachers from the school. Thank you to everyone, and say hello to everybody from me, and also to your family.”
Fr. Daniel Schwendeman
“The support and encouragement I received from faculty and staff and brother seminarians exceeded my expectations. I always felt that everyone wanted me to succeed. Sacred Heart provided me with a safe environment where I could grow as an individual and as a future priest. Because of that, my four years at Sacred Heart remain among the happiest in my life.”
Fr. Giannmaria Canu (Italy)
“Every day I receive a message with a word shared by my friends who belong to the movement of “focolarini”. This morning, watching my phone, I found a prophetic ‘daily word’: “nothing is small if you work with love.” When I arrived in America, I was suddenly surprised because of the size of everything: streets, houses, cars, rooms, and people too, all bigger than my small Italy and even bigger than my small island of Sardinia. But after a few days, things appeared really different: I began to appreciate the climate of family in the Sacred Heart house, I was touched by the kindness of teachers, I enjoyed the friendliness of classmates and seminarians, I spent whole lunches talking with Fr. Rector, professors, superiors and staff of SHSST. It was a wonderful experience of God, an experience of closeness, and therefore also of smallness, littleness and evangelical poverty magically (graciously) everything small becomes big, huge, giant. Thank God for this marvelous “great experience of smallness.”
Fr. Ronald Cerda Meza, Diocese of Juigalpa (Nicaragua)
“…Since I arrived until the last day, I did not feel like a student more than one summer course, I felt really welcome, I felt as a family, either with the parents and siblings of the Sacred Heart Community, for which I especially appreciate to Fr. Yvon and Br. Duane; in the same way by the teachers, to the point of sharing with some members of their families and so I take this opportunity to thank Vicki and her husband, Kelly and her family. Really, it was a wonderful day and I felt at home, very happy… (Read more)”
“Native Speakers of Angels’ Language”, Sr. Krista Mijatović
“…In general, the atmosphere at SHSST is very encouraging. Maybe students won’t remember everything they learned in classes, but certainly, they won’t forget the way they were treated. So much respect!… (Read more)”
Most Rev. Richard Gagnon Archbishop of Winnipeg
“The Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Canada, has sent a number of seminarians to Sacred Heart over the years and has been very satisfied with the quality of education and formation available at Sacred Heart.”
Fr. John Clote, OFM Conv., Shrine Administrator, National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe (SHSST Class of 2016)
“Preparing solid and effective priests for the 21st Century in the Catholic Church has many challenges. The academic, spiritual, and pastoral formation I received at Sacred Heart solidified in me a sound concept of the priesthood. My time at Sacred Heart increased in me an authentic zeal for evangelization and commitment to sound interpretation and application of Scripture. It has prepared both my heart and mind. I have made lasting friendships among the students representing the many dioceses. Each year I spent at Sacred Heart I became more appreciative and edified by my experience. Today, as an administrator of a large national shrine, I regularly call upon the competence instilled in me by my instructors and peers. This institution has given me the skills and heart to serve the people of God with genuine concern and charity.”
Fr. Bruce Brylinski, Director of Pre- and Post-Novitiate, Glenmary Home Missioners
“My first experience of Sacred Heart was through my Glenmary students. When I asked them how they were doing, they said they were happy. They were happy with classes, they were happy with teachers, they were happy with spiritual direction. Even the surroundings brought contentment. Overall, it was a good place to be a seminarian….
“All around Sacred Heart is a good fit. Glenmary students are finding Sacred Heart to be a positive experience. They can depend on Sacred Heart to guide them on the path of priesthood. And I can be assured that my students are getting an education that will make them happy.”
Fr. Leo Blasi, Parochial Vicar, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Hays, KS (SHSST Class of 2017)
“I was blessed to have the opportunity to do my seminary training for the Diocese of Salina Kansas at SHSST. My experience there was top notch, both because of my classmates and because of the faculty and staff…. Deacon Kramer has clearly brought the Homiletics Department to the highest level; the adjustments that he has made to the education model have made it so that when students have completed the curriculum they feel very comfortable at the pulpit or in front of a class. Truly a blessing to my ministry.
“I would recommend SHSST to anyone, but especially to those who are looking at a vocation to the priesthood later in life.”
Fr. Michael Martin, Associate Pastor, St. Augustine Church, Louisville, KY and Holy Name of Mary Church, Lebanon, KY (SHSST Class of 2017)
“When I decided to discern priesthood with the Archdiocese of Louisville I knew exactly where I wanted to attend seminary: it was Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. From the moment I walked in the door, I knew I was where I belonged.
“I am truly grateful to Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology; I am a priest today because of the excellent education and training they gave me. I am truly blessed by having been a seminarian at Sacred Heart, and I love being a priest for the people of God. I am living proof that God never gives up!
“Thank you, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology!”
Rev. John Brosmer, Diocese of Evansville, Indiana
I know I received the best formation at Sacred Heart School of Theology. But I received more than that. SHST was the right place for me to be because it’s a community that supports each other. During the six years I was there I experienced several deep losses, members of my immediate family died. The SHST community really supported and encouraged me and gave me the confidence I needed to continue my pursuit of priesthood.
Rev. James Heiser, Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming
Accomplishing my goal of ordination to the priesthood would not have been possible were it not for each and every individual at Sacred Heart School of Theology. Teachers, students, staff have been a wonderful part of my life for the past four short years. And now, as my presence in their lives decreases, I pray that the life and love that is Jesus Christ increases for all of them. For me — I will meet my goal on June 24 when I will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cheyenne. Blessings.
Rev. James Pemberton, Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas
Alma Mater is a Latin phrase that is, for the most part, used with very little reflection on the true meaning of the words. Not so for me. When I think of Sacred Heart School of Theology as my Dear Mother, the words describe my feelings exactly. Sacred Heart has indeed been a mother to me and has formed me with the love and care that any mother would show her child. Sacred Heart not only has reinforced my orthodoxy, but also given me a fresh and broader view of Church. Spiritually, I have gained a more mature perspective, thanks to Sacred Heart’s formation program. I will be eternally grateful to my bishop for sending me to Sacred Heart for my priestly formation. It was a blessing.
Mary Queen of Heaven Parish, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
I recently heard SHST alumnus Fr. Don Malin, Colorado Springs. Colorado, give a homily for vocations at Mary Queen of Heaven, and what a good homily he gave. Your seminary turns out great priests!! Keep up the good work. Bless you for all you do. Just thought you might be intersted in the good news about one of your graduates.
Rev. Andrew J. Corona, Diocese of Gary, Indiana
In a recent visit to Sacred Heart School of Theology, I once again had time to visit with familiar faces and to meet the new people who now walk the halls of SHST. I am always energized and inspired by the new students as I listen to the stories and aspirations they share about their lives and their journeys towards priesthood. It recalls the same dream I once had, and have now fulfilled in serving God and God’s people. I always tell people that the years I spent at SHST were the happiest of my life . This is not to say that I wasn’t appropriately challenged during my formation. The school prepared me very well to meet the needs of the greater church. Sacred Heart School of Theology is a caring community that wants you to succeed. Their emphasis on pastoral care is outstanding and has prepared me very well in all aspects of my ministry.
Rev. Richard Broussard, Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana
I love my ministry. The most satisfyng aspect of it is being there for people when they are in need. Being a priest allows me to help them. Sacred Heart prepared me well for this part of priesthood.
Rev. Thomas Dieter, Diocese of Joliet, Illinois
When I began my ministry in the Diocese of Joliet, I felt so well prepared to deal with the many responsibilities of being a parish priest. But some-times, when things weren’t going well, it was my memories of Sacred Heart that kept me going. I’ve returned to Sacred Heart for alumni week for 22 years. The seminary rejuvenates my spirit.
Diocese of Albany — parishioner
I am a member of the Diocese of Albany and personally know several men who are alumni of Sacred Heart. These men, and all those in the diocese that have graduated from SHST I believe, as do many, are well-prepared priests, and not just as presiders and homilists (I have never heard a bad homily from a Sacred Heart graduate) but everything that comprises the role of an ordained priest.
Thank you for preparing these men for service, and I am praying for all your seminarians at Sacred Heart school of Theology. Please continue to fill the United States and Canada with these men to lead our faith communities.
Rev. Robert Guerra, Diocese of Victoria, Texas
When I graduated from Sacred Heart, I was very well prepared for the responsibilities of priesthood. I am confident when I preside at various liturgies and comfortable preaching because of the training I received. The faculty knew how to help me understand the theology and Scripture I was studying. And the spiritual formation program and my spiritual directors helped me understand what it means to be a priest. I love what I’m doing!
Rev. Joseph Manerowski, Diocese of Albany, New York
I appreciate many things about my experience at Sacred Heart School of Theology — the beautiful chapels, so conducive to prayer and community worship, and the campus, wooded and quiet, yet close to Milwaukee and Chicago. I’ve been in ministry for a while and am a pastor now. I realize how valuable the pastoral education program was. It gave me practical experiences to learn from. And I keep going back to my class notes. I can still hear the voices of some of my gifted professors. I know I was fully prepared for all aspects of priesthood, liturgy, preaching, counseling and administration, and I’m grateful.
Alumnus, Master of Arts in Theology
I studied for eight years to get my undergraduate degree and at the end of that time, I never wanted to read another book again. After I completed my studies in the Milwaukee archdiocesan deacon program, I was spent and tired of reading. Later, when I studied for the faculties to preach – same thing. After I had completed my preparation for the faculties of witnessing marriages – the same thing happened.
Something different happened to me at Sacred Heart. I learned so many valuable things that I use in my daily ministry. And I still use the SHST library for homily preparation. Beyond that though, studying there developed in me a hunger that I find I must keep feeding. A little over a year after I graduated, I developed my own reading program which has me studying almost every day. SHST has opened doors for me, and I am grateful.
Rev. Lewis W. Eberhart, 2004 Alumnus
Catholic Chaplain at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor Michigan
Thank you all for the education I received while at Cardinal Stritch and Sacred Heart. I especially am indebted to Fr. Hugh Birdsall for his Pastoral Communication classes, I utilize what he taught me daily in patient and staff interactions, it also made CPE classes a breeze.
“Unsung Hero: A Reflection on Cultural Barriers and Stereotypes” by a former ECSP student
“Priests Share Their Stories of Hearing Vocation Call Later in Life”
Click HERE to read an article from The Messenger featuring three of our alumni from the Diocese of Belleville sharing their later vocation stories.
God is Calling – ‘Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening’
Deacon Steve Kramer, director of homiletics and director of recruitment at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, is available for an informal meeting where anyone could ask about anything related to feeling called to a vocation. Sacred Heart Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Monica Misey, interviewed Deacon Kramer, to start the conversation. To read the interview, God is Calling – ‘Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening‘ click here.
“Better late than never for a religious vocation”
View another later vocation story here! Catholic Philly Later Vocation Story
“Sacred Heart Thrives in Assisting with ‘Second Vocations'”
Click HERE to read the article from the Catholic Herald about the faith journey of our seminarian, Dcn. Dan Kostelc.
Listen to this podcast about Fr. Christopher Klusman, a graduate of Sacred Heart, about his vocation story and ministry among the deaf community. Click here: CNA Newsroom: “More Than Words”
“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Joannicus was born to poor parents and spent his childhood tending pigs in Bithynia (modern Turkey). When he was nineteen years old, Joannicus became a guard in the service of the Byzantine emperor. He participated in smashing of sacred images, the violent and heretical “iconoclasm” endorsed by the emperor.
It wasn’t until Joannicus was in his mid-thirties that he met a monk who encouraged him to examine his way of life. After much conversation, prayer, and penances, Joannicus spent the next six years as an upright and exemplary soldier. At the age of forty, Joannicus dedicated his life to Christ and left for a monastery on Mount Olympus where he made deep friendships with monks which led him to pursue solitary prayer as a monk. He died in 846.
Saint Martin of Tours
St. Martin of Tours converted to Christianity at a young age against his parent’s wishes and later became a follower of Hilary of Poitiers. He served in the Roman cavalry, but was jailed for being a coward. He would not fight because he was a solider for Christ and it would be unlawful for him to fight. He was later released from the military.
After the military, St. Marin of Tours declared his vocation and lived as a hermit on the island of Gallinaria where he ate a poisonous plant and prayed for healing. He was miraculously cured. He later became the third Bishop of Tour in 371 AD.
There is a legend St. Martin of Tours split his cloak in two and gave half to a beggar outside the gates of Amiens. Later that night, he dreamt that Jesus was wearing the half of the cloak he gave the beggar. In another version of this story, Martin awoke to find his cloak had been restored into one piece.
His feast day is November 11 and he is the patron saint against poverty, against alcoholism, and of beggars.
At the age of seventy-five years old, Abraham took his family and all his possessions and moved to Canaan after he received a message from God. God blessed Abraham with a son, Isaac, at the age of one hundred. God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son and upon drawing his knife to slay his son, Abraham was approached by an angel. The angel told Abraham that God was pleased with Abraham’s obedience and shared God’s promise to him: “I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars in the sky” (22:17).
Pope Benedict XVI said, “Abraham was blessed because in faith he was able to discern the divine blessing, going beyond appearances and trusting in God’s presence even when God’s paths seemed mysterious to him.”
Saint John of God
At just eight years old, John decided to leave his home in Portugal with a priest and travel to Spain where he worked as a shepherd. After learning of his mother’s death years later, John then decided to serve God with his life. He took work as a shepherd, a servant, and then a traveling peddler of religious books. With John of Ávila’s encouragement, John began to learn nursing skills. He later served the sick until his death in 1550.
As the cousin of Saint Stephen, King of Hungary, Gunther had ties to the saintly Emperor Henry. With this connection, Gunther lived a carefree and luxurious life. When Gunther was fifty years old, he met Saint Gotthard of Hildesheim, who was at the time, reforming Hersfeld Abbey. Gotthard’s witness moved Gunther so much that he donated majority of his wealth to Hersfeld and became a monk.
Shortly after Gunther took charge of Göllingen, he fell extremely ill. Gotthard kindly but firmly asked Gunther to step down from his position. When Gunther agreed, he decided to become a simple monk at another monastery until his death in 1045.
Blessed Gabra Mika'el
Priest and Martyr
In 1840, Gabra, an Orthodox monk and scholar, was received into the Catholic Church by priest Justin de Jacobis. The two men began a fruitful collaboration, writing a catechism, educating priestly candidates, and founding a college. Garba was ordained a priest in 1851 at the age of sixty. Sadly, when the Ethiopean leader began persecuting Catholics, Gabra was captured and died of ill treatment in 1855. He was beautified in 1926.
Saint Francis Serrano Frías
Bishop-Elect and Martyr
Francis was a native of Huenja, Granada, Spain when he joined the Dominicans. In 1725, Francis boarded a ship to China for mission work. Dressed as peasants, Francis and his fellow missionaries carried out their ministry after their arrival. Two years later, persecutions intensified and Francis was forced to hide in chimneys and holes in the ground. However, even though Francis was in hiding most of the time, many Christians were converted and baptized over a twenty year period. In 1746 Francis and two other priests were arrested and tortured for information on the whereabouts of Bishop Peter Sanz. Sadly, in 1748, Francis and three other priests were strangled to death by their capturers.
At the age of forty, Apollo decided to desert his life to live as a hermit. Four decades later, after solitary prayer, Apollo left his current home to venture to the city to condemn persecutions of Julian the Apostate. He was then asked to take charge of a monastery near the ancient city of Heliopolis in Egypt that housed five hundred monks. He agreed to do so. He held this role until his death in 395 at the age of ninety-five.
Saint Colman of Cloyne
Born in Munster, Ireland, Colman went through extensive education for his work as a royal bard in the service of the tribal king at Cashel. When Colman was fifty years old and still a pagan, Saint Brendan visited Cashel in search of the relics of the missionary Bishop Saint Ailbhe. After Colman presented the relics to Brendan, he declared that those who touched the holy relics should no longer remain pagan. Colman was baptized by Brendan and sent to Saint Jarlath of Tuam where he was ordained a priest.
Colman began preaching in Limerick and founded a church and monastery at Cloyne and in County Kerry. He died in 606.
Deacon Steve Kramer, director of homiletics and director of recruitment at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, is available for an informal meeting where anyone could ask about anything related to feeling called to a vocation.
Feel free to reach out to Deacon Kramer at:
Listen to a welcome by our President-Rector, Very Rev. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz SDS, Ph.D.
SHSST Video Tour
Join us on a virtual tour of Sacred Heart and see what our seminary has to offer!
A Day in the Life
Check our video about what it is like to be a part of the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology community!
Follow Your Heart
Discerning the priesthood? Follow your heart and listen to God's calling.
Forming Great Preachers
Dcn. Steve Kramer, Director of Homiletics, describes our process of forming great preachers.