By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Absence sometimes does make the heart grow fonder — and perhaps more receptive of God’s call to a priestly vocation.
Born in St. Joseph where he will be ordained at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on June 27, Deacon Alex Kreidler was still in elementary school when his family moved away.
“I lived in South Dakota for a few years in a town with few Catholics and no Catholic school,” he said.
“When we moved back to St. Joseph and I started attending Catholic school again, I liked being in an environment where almost everyone was Catholic.” Deacon Kreidler said.
“I began to realize that this was something more than my family did alone, and I began to become very interested in the church. I wanted to learn more, and one day it just hit me — ‘Oh yeah! I think I want to be a priest,’” he said.
Uncool, even for a kid at St. James School in St. Joseph, so Deacon Kreidler decided to explore other options.
“I thought about being a doctor or a teacher, or something like that,” he said.
But when God calls, he really calls, Deacon Kreidler said.
“Nothing else gave me the same peace and joy,” he said.
“Toward the end of high school, I made up my mind and decided to go to the seminary. That was just over seven years ago, and the time has certainly flown,” Deacon Kreidler said.
That doesn’t mean it was easy, especially learning to live in community.
“One of the most difficult parts of seminary, as many can attest to, is the normal challenge of community life,” Deacon Kreidler said.
“It’s not always easy living with other young men whom you don’t know and who are all used to living a certain way,” he said.
On top of that, for the first time in his life, he was away from home and family.
But Deacon Kreidler can look back at those early, tough years of seminary formation and see God’s hand at work.
“In that separation, the Lord drew me closer to himself and helped me grow,” he said.
“It was in that mix (of community life) that one can learn to come out of himself and reach the other,” Deacon Kreidler said. “It is in that context that I can learn a lot about myself and others, and make a lot of top-notch friends who will be a huge support to me as a priest. The process of seminary formation helped form me into a better man and, hopefully, a better priest.”
Deacon Kreidler said he already has “top-notch” friends among the priests of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph who have encouraged and supported him on the path to his ordination.
“I think of Father Donald Sturm who taught me Latin,” Deacon Kreidler said.
“Father (Richard) Rocha (diocesan director of vocations) was a big support throughout seminary,” he said.
He also named his two pastors at St. James.
“Father Vince Rogers really encouraged me in pursuing the priesthood, and Father Joseph Totton was very supportive as well,” Deacon Kreidler said.
Deacon Kreidler said he learned something else during his formation years — he can’t out-give God, even as he prepares to dedicate his life to serving God’s church and people.
“I’ve learned that when we are generous with the Lord, he responds a hundred fold, more than we can ever imagine,” Deacon Kreidler said.
“Far from taking anything from us, he only makes it better, what it was meant to be,” he said.
“All in all, following the Lord has been a response to his invitation to a happiness I could not have discovered on my own,” Deacon Kreidler said.
“He knows each one of our hearts, and he is only interested in teaching us that true peace and happiness comes from him alone, and that he has every means of providing that to us,” he said.
“Following the Lord has been a chance to become more the man he made me to be and to help others see the same in him,” Deacon Kreidler said.