Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) — Bishop James Conley will ordain four new priests for the Diocese of Lincoln Saturday, May 25 — Deacons Anthony Bedient, Carson Kain, Allan Phan and Andrew Schwenka.
The Ordination Mass will take place at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, 3500 Sheridan Blvd., Lincoln, at 11 a.m.
On Friday, May 24, the ordination of the diocese’s new deacons will take place at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ. Those men being ordained deacons include Robert Froeschl, Caleb Hile, Robert Johnson, Alec Sasse and Brian Wirth.
A holy hour for the ordinandi will take place at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, 320 N. 16th St., Lincoln, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. All are invited to attend.
Deacon Anthony Bedient
Deacon Anthony Bedient will celebrate his first Mass at St. Joseph Church in York, where he grew up, at 1 p.m. on Sunday May 26. Deacon Bedient’s mom and stepdad are Maggie and Larry Kopsa, his dad and stepmom are Bob and Jan Bedient.
Deacon Bedient has one brother, one half-brother, three step-brothers and two step-sisters.
While in college in Lincoln, Deacon Bedient completed a degree in business.
Deacon Bedient was first inspired to go to the seminary by God himself. A few years before the seminary, he said, he was asking himself some of life’s biggest questions:“Where did I come from?” and “Where am I going?”
“I asked these questions because I was in a tragic accident with my wife Jessica,” he said. “She would lose her life and I survived the accident. In the search for meaning and hope there was one thing that filled me with meaning and hope above all. And this was God himself.”
Deacon Bedient told the Lord that he wanted to give the world the hope that God gave him. In the quiet of prayer, he heard God calling him to “Come be my priest.”
Additionally, Deacon Bedient credits his parents, grandparents, siblings, family, mentors, friends and priests with helping him discern his vocation, as they all brought him closer to Jesus.
Once he is ordained, Deacon Bedient is looking forward to helping “the people of this great diocese find, encounter and love the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.”
Deacon Carson Kain
Deacon Carson Kain grew up in McCook and will celebrate his first Mass there at St. Patrick Church at 2 p.m. on Sunday May 26. The son of Fritz and Tama Kain, he has one sister and six brothers.
Before attending seminary, Deacon Kain received his associate degree in science from McCook Community College and attended Nebraska Wesleyan University for a semester—where he met ordination classmate Deacon Allen Phan. After a semester at Wesleyan, Deacon Kain transferred to UNL where he studied biology and biochemistry for three semesters.
Looking back, Deacon Kain said, there were a lot of factors that led him to discern his vocation. He credits Deacon Phan, all of the priests that he’s met and his parents, who inspired him to grow in holiness.
Deacon Kain also took advantage of the opportunity to go to Sydney, Austrailia for World Youth Day after he graduated from high school, attended a diocesan TEC retreat, Koinonia (a bi-annual retreat put on by the UNL Newman Center) and got involved in FOCUS.
“Looking back, what really did it for me was a pilgrimage that I took to Rome,” Deacon Kain said. “That was the icing on the cake.”
Once he is ordained, Deacon Kain said he is most looking forward to celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and bringing people closer to Christ.
He said, “I’m really looking forward to being in a parish and helping people out wherever I can. It’s been a great ride, but I’m ready to get out there to help in the field.”
Deacon Allan Phan
Deacon Allan Phan, son of Tri and Nguyen Phan, grew up in Lincoln and has four half-brothers and one half-sister. He will celebrate his first Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Lincoln at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 26.
Deacon Phan grew up in Lincoln and studied at Nebraska Wesleyan University for one year. He originally planned to study veterinary sciences. Before entering the seminary, he took general education classes at Wesleyan for one semester.
Deacon Phan said, “When I was at Wesleyan I visited the seminary with friends and when I was at the seminary, I felt like the Lord was holding my heart, so I took it to prayer and although I was hesitant, I decided I wouldn’t ever know for sure unless I went.”
He said that he felt at peace with his decision when he entered the seminary, especially when strangers would ask him if he had ever thought about being a priest.
Father Benjamin Holdren was influential in helping Deacon Phan discern his vocation “by being such an inspiring and approachable witness of the faith and priesthood.”
When asked what he is most looking forward to as a priest, Deacon Phan said, “I feel like nothing can compete with celebrating Mass as God’s priest and being an instrument of bringing Him to His people and bringing His people to Him.”
But he is also looking forward to being able to hear confessions and administering the Anointing of the Sick to be God’s instrument and bring His mercy and hope to people when they need it most.
Deacon Andrew Schwenka
Deacon Andrew Schwenka will celebrate his first Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Minden at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday May 26.
The son of Dean and Mary Jo Schwenka, he has two sisters and two brothers. His youngest brother Christian is also a seminarian for the Diocese of Lincoln. Deacon Schwenka grew up on his family’s farm in Minden where he attended grade school and high school.
Deacon Schwenka first attended UNL where he was a pre-med student studying biology and psychology.
He said that his family first opened his heart to a vocation to the priesthood starting with all of his grandparents and his parishes, Holy Family in Hartwell and St. John the Baptist in Minden, which helped his parents raise him and his siblings in the faith.
Deacon Schwenka also said that the work of positive role models, CCD teachers, the faithful Christians in his community, the priests and School Sisters of Christ the King, came to fruition during his second year of college.
After being involved at the UNL Newman Center and many hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Deacon Schwenka said “Yes” to God’s invitation to trust Him and follow His call to the priesthood.
When asked what he’s most looking forward to after his ordination Deacon Schwenka said, “Without a doubt I look forward to celebrating the sacraments the most. There is nothing more humbling than being called to be a minister of those seven greatest treasures of our faith.”
He said that he is also excited to journey with all of the great Catholic families that we have in our diocese.