“St. Augustine’s book Confessions changed my life. I desire to be a priest so that I can preach and teach the glories of our Catholic faith, the rich history and theology which so many do not understand.”
Meet the rest of my class
My name is John Solheid. I am called to serve the Church through education and priestly ministry as a priest with the Congregation of St. Basil. This is my story.
I grew up in Minnesota, the son of devout Catholics. I was a rebellious child, though, acting up in order to avoid going to Mass on Sundays. I did receive First Communion and Confirmation, but they were mere “rites of passage” to me. In my late teens, I played baseball and started going to Mass before games in the hopes that doing so would help me perform better. While that wasn’t the purest of motives, it got me back to Mass, and the Lord kept working with me.
Once in college, I fell in love with medieval history. Writing a paper for class, I relied heavily on Thomas Aquinas’ writings. Then, I read The Confessions of St. Augustine. It changed my life. Soon, I was frequenting confession and attending Mass regularly, moving to a deeper faith.
I decided to pursue graduate studies at Saint John’s School of Theology in Collegeville. Studying with the Benedictines, I began discerning a religious vocation, though I was uncertain about having a “calling.” I never heard a voice calling out to me. Then, a priest explained it: which would I regret later in life if I chose not to pursue – Marriage or Holy Orders? I struggled with this question, and it led me to a very challenging period in my life. I left theology school and worked in the mental health field for five years, eventually deciding to study psychology.
Yet, God had not given up on me. Looking back, I marvel at the variety of experiences that stirred my faith and gently “called” me to Him: reading Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure (about a boy who wants to be a priest, but life gets in his way); an encounter on a quiet, snowy night with a group of deer, which touched me with a deep awareness of God’s presence and beauty; a conversation with a Maryknoll priest, who encouraged me to ask St. John’s if they would let me resume my studies. I did — and they did. The time away, and the experiences I had had, let me to return with a completely different mindset. Soon, I had a Master’s Degree in Theology.
At this point, I was firmly committed to the priesthood. I looked into some religious orders that have monastic ties, but in the end, I didn’t think the monastic life was right for me. Then, I was accepted into the doctoral program in theology at St. Michael’s College in Toronto, where I became familiar with the Basilian Fathers.
The Basilians are a smaller order, devoted entirely to teaching and academics, but who also live in common and pray together, which gives them a good work-life-prayer balance. They touch all the things that bring me joy: teaching, spirituality, and witness to youth on campus.
I desire to be a priest so that I can preach and teach the glories of our Catholic faith, the rich history and theology which so many do not understand. I want to help God’s people carry their burdens, and offer healing through the sacrament of confession.
Please pray for me and my fellow Labouré classmates as we begin the journey to formation. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have at JohnSolheid@rescuevocations.org.
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