LINCOLN (SNR) - Two men are in the final stages of formation and preparation before they become priests of the Diocese of Lincoln. They will be ordained Saturday, May 26, by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz. All are invited to attend the ordination Mass, which will begin at 11 a.m. at Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Deacon Thomas Schultes
Born in Omaha and raised in Hastings, Deacon Thomas Schultes is the oldest son of Marvin and Delores Schultes. He attended parochial school with his younger sister and brother, graduating from St. Cecilia High School in 1992.
As a child, priests were always around him. Deacon Schultes’ uncle, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, was a priest of the Diocese of Sioux City (Iowa). Many Lincoln Diocese priests were his teachers, including Msgr. Jack McCabe, who died in 1999.
Still, Deacon Schultes never felt a particular calling. After high school, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
A few years later, he was dissatisfied with his job and social life. Almost flippantly, he suggested to a coworker that he might leave everything behind to become a priest.
His friend answered, "I could see that."
Deacon Schultes made a brief attempt to contact Father Robert Matya, vocations director, but soon found a new job with the McCabe family, started dating a new girl and ramped up his social calendar. It was everything he wanted.
Four years later, he opened the Southern Nebraska Register to see what the new priests assignments were.
"The Holy Spirit hammered me," Deacon Schultes recalled. "I couldn’t shake thoughts of the priesthood – they were overwhelming."
After that, he seemed to see a priest everywhere he went. He contacted his uncle, who was then Bishop of Duluth (Minnesota) to discuss his conflicting feelings.
In one last attempt to shake the idea of a priestly vocation, he went on vacation – only to see Bishop Bruskewitz aboard the same plane.
After serious consultation with Father Matya and Father John Sullivan, Deacon Schultes entered the seminary.
"I continued to grow in my relationship with the Lord, and He provided many events that left me with zero doubts," Deacon Schultes said.
Now after years in seminary formation – the last four at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia – Deacon Schultes is eager to return to his beloved family and friends and start new relationships as he serves a parish.
He is filled with gratitude for the people of the Lincoln Diocese. And he knows he had some supernatural help, too.
"I have no doubts that Msgr. McCabe is someone guiding my life from Heaven," he stated.
Deacon Schultes will celebrate his first Mass of Thanksgiving at North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln Sunday, May 27. He’ll celebrate a second Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings Sunday, June 3.
Deacon Michael Zimmer
Growing up in Firth, Deacon Michael Zimmer attended St. James Parish in Cortland with his parents Ron and Cinda, now members of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln. He has three sisters and two brothers, including Father Matthew Zimmer of North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln.
"My parents were always encouraging us to pray about what our vocation in life would be," Deacon Zimmer said.
He’d given the priesthood some consideration in high school, but it seemed that he was destined for the usual job, marriage and parenthood.
So, immediately after high school, Deacon Zimmer went to Northwest Missouri State to study business administration and management. There, he started to realize his priestly vocation.
With his older brother already a seminarian, Deacon Zimmer knew that his next step would be to seek out advice from a priest about how to discern his calling.
"I spoke with Msgr. (John) Perkinton, my spiritual director back home about it, and he agreed that I should go to the seminary," Deacon Zimmer said.
He enrolled in St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, where he found a great deal of support in his journey toward clear discernment.
"It has been a great blessing to have had the formators in my seminary experience who were very patient with me throughout the process," he said.
At one point, he took some time off in his studies, but his support team stayed with him.
"There were some who even kept contact with me in my short time away from the seminary," he said.
Now that his ordination is only days away, Deacon Zimmer is looking forward to administering the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession to the people of the diocese who have been so helpful to him.
"I truly am blessed to be a part of this diocese and am so thankful for the support that has been given to me throughout my seminary career," he said. "Seminary is difficult, and it would not be possible without the prayers and support of all the lay faithful throughout the diocese."
Deacon Zimmer looks upon his priestly vocation as an opportunity to share "a renewed sense of zeal and awe within the Mass."
He continued, "I hope to be able to inspire a great faith and devotion in the Eucharist and continue the work that so many priests before me have done."
Deacon Zimmer will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln Sunday, May 27.