Meet Our Graduating Seminarians

Get to know each of our graduating seminarians

The following are short stories about the graduating men at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. The stories highlight their own personal journey at IHMS, how it is God called them to be here, and how they've grown throughout their formation. Check back often as more stories are added.

Andrew Beine - Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Unlike many of my college seminarian brethren, the thought of priesthood had not been on my mind before high school. Around my sophomore year, my pastor invited myself and a classmate to a Saint Andrew Dinner at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Through the beauty of the liturgy, vocation stories and simple dinner conversation with seminarians in-residence, I first heard the call to consider diocesan seminary. I answered that call about seven months later on a mission trip in Kentucky. The Lord made it very clear to me in an examination of conscience in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation that in spite of my imperfections, doubts, and the qualities which I believed disqualified me to serve as His priest, He would provide abundantly in every moment the grace I need to persevere.  

After three years of formation at IHMS, God's promise to provide for me hasn't changed. This seminary challenges men to own their formation and invest in the means necessary to be formed after the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I especially enjoy the periods of silence scheduled throughout the year which allow the Lord to speak clearly into our hearts without mediation or distraction. I am grateful to be in formation for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and look forward to continuing priestly formation as a theologian next year. 

John Paul Bickerstaff - Diocese of Winona-Rochester

Having grown up in a devoutly Catholic family, I was aware from an early age that God might be calling me to the priesthood. I would think about the idea more intensely here and there as I grew up, while pursuing plenty of other interests as well. But when push came to shove, though, and God called me to enter seminary after high school, it took a little extra grace to respond to the Lord’s call. “Why does God want to take away everything that makes me happy?” I thought. Of course, I was very short-sighted and untrusting in this initial response to Invitation for me. But being the good Father that He is, He helped me to see the futility of resisting Him and the beauty of saying yes to His loving will for me, and so I entered the seminary. Since then, it’s been a beautiful journey of continuing to learn to follow His lead, to grow in virtue into the man He’s calling me to be, and I continue to learn to respond with love and trust in Him for the next steps on this journey He has called me to. 

Bennett Feudner - Archdiocese of Milwaukee

I’ve been raised Catholic pretty much all my life, but I started to really come into the faith on a deeper and personal level once I got to college. I spent two years at UW-Green Bay and found the Catholic community there. That became the first time when I actively pursued God, and He began to pursue me as well. My entire life, though, people have asked me, “Have you ever thought of the priesthood?” and the bolder people telling me, “You’d make a good priest.” God began to reveal to me during my second year at UW-GB that there’s a call on my heart and He’s been silently forming me, like the potter and the clay (cf. Jeremiah 18:6). This was a watershed moment for me, and as soon as that happened, I knew I had to take the priesthood seriously… and now I’ve transferred and am here at IHMS! 

My time here in the seminary has been incredibly good and fruitful. The growth in my brother seminarians, myself, as well as the graduated seminarians gives me a clear picture of how good IHMS is at fostering and forming the good in men whom God has called to discern His priesthood. Following this year, I look forward to the next step towards the priesthood, which is theological studies—hopefully with a good bunch of the same seminarians that I’ve been ‘in the trenches’ with these past few years! 

Brendan Logan - Diocese of Sioux Falls

I first visited IHMS in 2013 during my junior year of high school. The only reason I went was because the associate priest at my parish asked me to go. Out of curiosity and getting out of high school classes I accepted his offer. It was a joy-filled experience being with the seminarians and priests that weekend. At the end of the vocational information weekend, I felt God asking me to be his priest. I declined His offer since I believed I was not 'worthy' or 'smart' enough to be his priest.  

A couple of years passed by, I received an associate degree in welding and manufacturing technologies, and I was working full-time as a robot operator. I was casually talking with a priest one day, and he suggested that I go back on a seminary visit.  I accepted just to prove to the priest that I was not called to the priesthood. God had other plans. God once again showed me the beauty, and joy of the priesthood on this visit, and I graciously accepted His offer the second time around. I entered seminary in 2020 and I have never been more joyful in my life than being at IHMS. After graduation, I will be going to the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE for the summer. I will then head to St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN to start Configuration I in the fall of 2024. 

David Marrone - Diocese of Madison

My journey to the seminary began back in 2013 during my freshman year in high school. Exposure to good teaching about the faith and some personal encounters with God in prayer brought me into a much deeper and more joyful life of faith. I was committed to doing something great for God with my life, but I wasn't sure if that would be through priesthood. During my freshman year in college, it seemed like something was missing. It was as if everyone had found something they were passionate about but me. I found this passion during that summer working at Camp Gray, a Catholic Summer camp in my home Diocese of Madison. I realized that what I most strongly desired was to live a life of self-gift for the church. This realization felt like an invitation from the lord to pursue seminary instead of continuing to say, "maybe someday." I have had a long journey up to this point in pursuing my vocation, but each step I take closer to priesthood seems like an affirmation that I am on the right path. These last few years at IHMS have been a significant part of clarifying and falling in love with that call.   

Michael Milam - Archdiocese of Milwaukee

It seems incredible to me that this is my last year at IHMS. When I arrived here in the Fall of 2020, the four years that I would spend here looked like such a long time. Now, those years have flown by in the blink of an eye. I first considered a vocation to the priesthood in my junior year of high school. In conversation with a dear priest from back home in Milwaukee and the Vocations Office, I decided to apply to the seminary. Now, I am so grateful for their encouragement and counsel at that period of my life. Without the backing of good and holy priests, I would not have had this beautiful chance to solidify my vocation through much prayer and discernment. 

In my time here, the opportunity for spiritual direction, Eucharistic Adoration, and regular confession have brought so much joy and solace to my life of prayer. Let’s not forget fraternity, though. Spending time with my brothers here in the house is always a joy as our motto states: Ecce quam Bonum, (How good it is for brothers to dwell as one…). The relationships I have formed here I know will be lifelong. These relationships, especially my ever-growing relationship with our Risen Christ, will sustain me in this vocation. 

I’d like to offer a special thank you to all the Faculty, Staff, and Benefactors of IHMS who have made my time here possible and fruitful. God bless you all! 

Charles Pomroy - Archdiocese of Milwaukee

I grew up in a Catholic family with parents who taught me the faith, but I never took it seriously. By the time I entered college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I was living deep in sin. After one semester I began to recognize how empty I felt despite having everything the world says is good. Through the grace of God, I was able to respond to His call and return to Him. In doing so, I recognized that God was asking me to give all of myself to His Church. I transferred to IHM Seminary the next year and have been continually reminded that it is in surrendering to God’s will that joy and fulfillment are found. 

My time at IHMS has been blessed and it has brought me closer to Jesus Christ. Specifically, I am grateful for the deep life of prayer to which we are called. It is in prayer that I learn how to receive God’s love and try to love Him in return. I am excited to continue priestly formation next year as a theologian.

Jarod Raber - Diocese of Peoria

I attended Bradley University for two years prior to entering seminary, where I studied to be an engineer. It was there, at the Newman Center, that I learned how to live as a Christian in a new way. There were many things I had never known prior to coming into that community. Like how to have an intimate prayer life or the depth of the Mass. After striving for holiness in the Newman community for a couple of years, I began to realize that I found my greatest inspiration in the priests around me, and I had a consistent desire to consider the priesthood. So, after two years of college, I transferred to IHMS to begin my studies as a seminarian. After this year, I will enter the Major Seminary at Mundelein, IL.  

Since coming here, I have been greatly moved by many aspects of seminary life. One of the most important is the balance of life. We are taught to develop our entire person, not just specific areas. Some of these things include making our beds in the morning, studying philosophy, spending time in fraternity, exercising, and above all: prayer. There isn’t an aspect of our lives that goes untouched by the formation here. I have been impressed with the maturity and formation of IHMS seminarians, many of my brothers inspire me by their pursuit of holiness.  

Alex Radtke - Diocese of La Crosse

The call of priesthood for me came when I was going into college up in Ashland, Wisconsin. However, I listened very poorly and stayed in college for 2 years. Upon visiting IHMS during my sophomore year, I sent in my application and entered into the Journey program in La Crosse. This in turn has led me to IHMS and it has been a great pleasure to be here for a third year. 

Charles Tackman - Diocese of Marquette

I heard the call to seminary and priesthood clearly for the first time in my eighth year in public school. After having a priest whom I didn't know tell me that I was called to the priesthood, I was scared, and my first reaction was to run away from the idea: a task I was only able to accomplish for five years! After convincing myself that I needed to be an engineer and study at Michigan Technological University, God had me right where he wanted me. My own self-seeking plans had brought me within walking distance of the university student parish, Saint Albert the Great, where the vocation director I had avoided for all those years was pastor! After falling in love with the St. Al's community, God began to teach me how to pray and grow closer to him in a way I had never before thought possible for myself. Then, in a profound week of prayer during MTU's Winter Carnival, God made it clear that I could stop running, be joyful, and transfer to IHMS. I am now on track to finish my third and last year of college seminary.

If I had one word to describe my experience at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, it would be growth. Seminary's etymological meaning, 'seed-bed', could not be more accurate. In each moment, my experiences have all had different flavors. Flavors of failure, joy, hilarity, exhaustion, consolation, desolation, success, closeness, distance, and burning charity have all been part of my time here. But, when looking back at my own life for the past three years with the Holy Trinity, I can see a small slice of the work that God has accomplished in my heart through all of my experiences and actions. Nothing escapes from God's Divine Providence. On a related note, my life has been so much richer and more interesting than I imagined it could be as a seminarian, and certainly more than I imagined life as an engineer would be! I am very excited to see what God will do with me when I enter Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

Anthony Vera - Diocese of Sioux City

I know God has blessed me since my youth because I had the immense gift of attending a devout Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. Being educated in the Catholic faith, I always knew intellectually that having a relationship with God was important, but it was in my freshman year of high school that I was blessed with many opportunities to go to religious retreats where I started meeting God in my heart, on a personal level. I recall a profound encounter I had with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration where he looked right into my soul, acknowledged all my faults, and said he loves me anyway. I had no choice but to follow Christ unconditionally since then, and I knew that the next step he was calling me to was seminary. 

My time in seminary has continued to be richly nourished by God’s goodness towards me and the goodwill of the people in his Church. Seminary is the best place in the world to grow because one is nourished by dedicated formators and spiritual directors, all of which have helped me to overcome wounds in my life. Additionally, one is in an environment of 60 other men who are all trying to do the same thing: grow in a closer relationship with the Lord. I have been growing a lot in the past three years, finding my own will being conformed more to Christ, which is both the best and the most painful part, but without a doubt, every day is a joy living out of the love God has for me. 

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