UP Catholic 01 20 2017 E Edition Page 12

12 January 20, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC VOCATIONS www.upcatholic.org St. Albert the Great & St. Anne Parishes love, support and continue to pray for our seminarians! Jack Kinnunen Dustin Larson U.P. natives begin priesthood formation BY JAMIE GUALDONI THE U.P. CATHOLIC To really know Gods plan for you is not to just do all these great retreats, even though they are good in themselves and God may work through them, but the simple fact of being with God, spending time with Him, and getting to know Him with your own heart, said Jack Kinnunen as he reflected on how he came to hear Gods call to the priesthood. In the last year, the Diocese of Mar- quette has welcomed four men into formation for the priesthood. Among them are two natives of the Upper Peninsula, Kinnunen from Chassell and Brandon Yanni who hails from Sault Ste. Marie. Both men have found Eucharistic Adoration and daily Mass, along with an intimate prayer life to aid them the most in their discernment. Kinnunen, 18, grew up as a member of the Lutheran faith for much of his early childhood, becoming Catholic when he was 10 years old. His moth- er, who was brought up Catholic, took him and his older sister to the Catholic Church, and it was soon after that he began to learn about the priesthood. When I converted, I cant recall that I remembered anything I learned in the Lutheran faith. It was like I was always a part of the Catholic Church. Kinnunens earliest memory of thinking about the priesthood came in Sister Ellen Enrights faith forma- tion class. Two boys from the class were being pulled out by Sister Ellen for causing trouble, and I was also pulled out for some reason. He remembers Sister Enright stop- ping in the middle of reprimanding the boys and saying, One of you three is going to be a priest one day. This really put the priesthood as a possibility in the back of my mind, added Kinnunen. From that moment on, the calling would come and go for Kinnunen. But, as a high school junior, the de- sire became stronger. According to Kinnunen, like any discernment, it wasn't easy. At first he was happy and joyful about it, but then grew scared. I started to ques- tion, how do I know that this is the right path? His questioning allowed him to grow closer to God for the answer. I certainly had lots of obsta- cles of different vocations popping in my head, but this pushed me even harder to continue the discernment in prayer. His discernment has led him to be- gin studying at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winonia, Minn. He began this fall after his completion of high school. Like Kinnunen, Brandon Yanni, 22, of Sault Ste. Marie first heard a calling in middle school and since then it has been gradually tugging at his heart. As an alumnus of St. Mary Catholic School in Sault Ste. Marie, Yanni was presented many opportu- nities to learn and get involved in the faith from a young age. This upbringing provided the con- ditions necessary for me to develop a relationship with the Lord and be open to attending seminary and to the priesthood. It was through his prayer life where the call became the most evident. I often grappled with the idea of the priesthood in my prayer life, and it was certainly through prayer, espe- cially Eucharistic Adoration and the Mass, that I experienced the stron- gest sense of a call, explained Yanni. Yanni commented that aside from prayer, being active in his parish, along with his family have had the strongest influences on him. From a young age, Yanni has served his parish by being an altar server and singing in the choir. He said attend- ing different diocesan events, such as the Chrism Mass or ordination Mass has impacted him the most. Yanni is currently studying at Sa- cred Heart Major Seminary in De- troit, after graduating from Lake Su- perior State University in the spring of 2016 with a degree in Chemistry. To read about the two other new diocesan seminarians, read the story on page 13. For photos and complete list of the seminarians currently studying for the Diocese of Mar- quette, see pages 14-15. COURTESY PHOTO Jack Kinnunen, left pictured with Kaye Solander and fellow diocesan seminarian Christian Flagstadt during Totus Tuus training last summer. Kinnunen recently began priesthood forma- tion for the diocese. JAMIE GUALDONI THE U.P. CATHOLIC Brandon Yanni during the 2016 diocesan seminarian retreat.

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