By Sara Kraft
“Prefer nothing to Christ,” advised Archbishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B., Archbishop of Dubuque, to Brothers Paul Sheller, O.S.B. and Victor Schinstock, O.S.B. during their ordination Mass on Thursday, May 16 at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey. “He will bring us to everlasting life,” quoted Archbishop Hanus from St. Benedict’s rule. Archbishop Hanus was the abbot of Conception Abbey before being ordained a bishop, and he looks forward to returning and living with his brother monks following his retirement this summer. Deacon Macario Martinez Arjona, O.S.B., just ordained a deacon the previous day, was privileged to serve at the altar in his first Mass as a deacon.
“It was a beautiful, wonderful blessing to be ordained by Archbishop Hanus, one of our own,” explained Deacon Macario. “He knows what it is like to be a monk here at Conception Abbey. It was a proud moment.”
Archbishop Hanus said it was very appropriate these men were ordained so close to the feast of Pentecost, as that is when Christ gave us his spirit to empower the Church. He encouraged Father Victor and Father Paul to devote themselves to teaching and breaking of the bread. By being ordained priests, they were given a commission to preach, just like Peter and the other apostles. Archbishop Hanus reminded the newly ordained priests to “Characterize Christ, even to death on a cross.”
Father Victor Schinstock, 31, declared, “I’m very, very thankful to be ordained a priest. It’s been an interesting journey so far, and I have no idea what God is going to give to me in the future. Every challenge has been an opportunity for grace.”
“I’m very happy to be at home (at Conception Abbey) after five years in school,” he explained. Born John Schinstock to Gene and Jeanne Schinstock of Hutchinson, Kansas, Father Victor enrolled in Conception Seminarian College in 2002 as a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita. He quickly felt at home in the peaceful rural setting and he professed temporary vows in 2005. In 2008, he professed solemn vows as a monk of Conception Abbey. One of the traits specifically of Benedictines is the stability of finding home at the monastery versus moving parishes as a diocesan priest. Since his family moved around a lot during his teenage years, Father Victor explained that was really refreshing to stay in one place. He adds, “I could settle and just be at home.”
Following his diaconate ordination last summer, he worked in Clinical Pastoral Education at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas and then graduated this May with a Master of Divinity degree from St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind.
Father Victor said, “I am filled with gratitude: for God, who has wrought the marvelous work, for my family and my community, who have supported me and shown me a life with meaning, and for the many people who have been praying for me throughout this journey.”
“I most look forward to offering people the sacrament of Reconciliation. Many people are afraid of confession. The grace experienced in the sacrament is overwhelming. Through this sacrament, they can know God’s mercy and grace,” he added.
Father Paul Sheller, 30, also looks forward to offering the sacraments to the faithful. He says, “My priesthood is a blessed opportunity to serve God’s people and draw souls closer to Christ, especially in (consecrating) the Eucharist for God’s people and the sacrament of Reconciliation.”
Father Paul was born Andrew Sheller to Dennis and Barbara Sheller of Stillwater, Oklahoma. He entered Conception Seminary College as a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2002. After graduating from Conception Seminary College in May 2005, he was received as a novice of Conception Abbey in August of 2005. In 2006, he professed temporary vows and in 2009 he professed solemn vows as a monk of Conception Abbey. Following his diaconate ordination, Father Paul assisted Father Martin DeMeulenaere, O.S.B. with pastoral duties at St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish in Maryville, Missouri during the summer of 2012. Father Paul graduated from St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania with Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees, both with highest honors.
Father Paul says, “I am grateful to my parents, brothers, and all who have supported me throughout my journey. It’s a privilege and an honor to answer this call.”
Brother Macario (Juan) Martinez Arjona, 35, was ordained a deacon on May 15. He is the son of Juan Martinez and the late Rachel Martinez of Garden City, Kansas. Deacon Macario entered Conception Seminary College in 2002 studying as a seminarian for the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. He graduated from Conception Seminary College in May 2003 and professed temporary vows in 2004. In 2007, Deacon Macario professed solemn vows as a monk of Conception Abbey.
Deacon Macario is excited to practice his diaconate ministry this summer at St. Peter’s Parish in Stanberry, Missouri before he returns to St. Meinrad Seminary for his final year of theological studies. God willing, Deacon Macario will be ordained a priest next summer.
In the upcoming months, Father Victor looks forward to assisting Father Martin DeMeulenaere, O.S.B. with pastoral duties at St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish in Maryville, Missouri and teaching at Conception Seminary College. Father Paul is excited to become Conception Abbey’s Vocation Director among other responsibilities.
Father Paul added, “I am still ‘unpacking’ the numerous graces from the days leading up to ordination and the ceremony itself and my First Mass. It was a beautiful time of God showing His love for me through my family, friends, and monastic brothers who have supported and encouraged me along this journey. The amount of people who attended the ordination and supported Father Victor and I was a powerful grace and witness of God’s goodness. I am constantly astounded by how God works in my life and it truly has been an exciting journey, which is just beginning. I hope the memories will always remain fresh in my mind in order to assist through the challenges and obstacles that will inevitably come in the future.”