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Archives A long and winding road to the seminary

Nov. 8, 2015

By Cathy Russell
Diocesan Vocation Coordinator

Eighth in a series

In his second year of college seminary at the Pontifical Josephinum, Douglas Schirmer’s road to the seminary doug schirmerhas taken many turns.

Born in Wisconsin, he is now a resident of Ogdensburg and parishioner of St. Mary’s Cathedral. His father, Robert, is a priest in the Anglican Church, and mother Amy is a secretary at Our Lady’s Parishes in Ogdensburg.  Doug has two brothers, Calvin and Joseph.

Robert’s work as an Anglican priest brought the family all over the country and into parts of Africa and Europe. This has given Douglas a view of the world that few people are able to have. The experiences and relationships formed in these travels have provided unique opportunities that have shaped the person Doug has become.
Doug credits his mother with making sure he and his brothers had a firm foundation of faith. Eventually, Doug’s study brought him to convert to the Roman Catholic church. With the conversion, came the idea that just maybe God was calling him to become a priest.

To put this idea out of his head, Doug decided to move to Nebraska but found himself unhappy and unfulfilled. Right around this time, Doug was invited on a pilgrimage to Italy. This trip, as well as the wisdom shared by several priests on the trip, cemented Doug’s belief that God was calling him to priesthood.

As Doug spoke to one priest about vocation, that priest challenged him, “Find what sets your heart on fire.” It was clear to Doug what the answer was: “Being a vessel of God’s love, mercy, truth and courage to those around me.”

Doug credits several priests with influencing his vocational decision. His Godfather, Anglican priest Father Douglas Hungerford, Father Bryan Stitt, Father Joseph Giroux, Father Joseph Morgan and Father Scott Belina all supported and encouraged him along the way.

His “faith heroes” include St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas Becket. When he is not studying or reading, Doug enjoys cooking and is quite a connoisseur of coffee. His favorite foods are Gold Coast stew and anything Italian.
When Doug prays, he likes to use the Hail Holy Queen, the prayer of St. Michael and the Glory Be.

When asked what he most looks forward to about being a priest, Doug says, “Being able to bring the sacraments to the people.”

As far as advice he would give to anyone out there considering priesthood, Doug says, “Be not afraid! Christ will never be outdone in mercy or charity. Discernment is a process, not a contract. Seminary is first and foremost about drawing closer to Christ. Take the plunge!”

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