He kept his vocation in focus

First slide

Deacon Stephen J. Schultz is a photographer of people. A look at the thousands of photos posted on his Flickr site shows very few pictures of just objects. The pictures reflect a person passionate about his family, his brother seminarians, people in general and his faith. They are the testament of a man perfectly suited for the priesthood.

On June 13, Deacon Schultz and two other transitional deacons from the Arlington Diocese will kneel before Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the altar of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The bishop will say the prayer of consecration over the men, present them with chasuble and stole and anoint them with holy chrism. This will be the culmination of a long journey punctuated with a few side trips.

Deacon Schultz was born in Rhode Island in 1972, the son of Arthur and Marianne. His father was in the Navy so the family moved around a bit before finally settling in Alexandria in 1980.

He'd always had thoughts of the priestly life.

"I've always been drawn to the altar," Deacon Schultz said.

His mother reminds him that as a boy, he and his twin brother, John, would play priest. John went on to marry and is now the choir director at St. Mark Parish in Vienna.

Deacon Schultz's interest in the priesthood never waivered, but his path was diverted a bit from finding his true calling.

He and his family attended St. Rita Parish in Alexandria and he graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1990. Deacon Schultz received his bachelor's degree in music education from George Mason University. The degree reflects his lifelong love of music, playing the trumpet and xylophone in high school and singing.

When he graduated, music and teaching jobs were hard to find, so he went to work for a variety of high-tech industries including serving as director of operations for a Chantilly-based computer server manufacturer.

But there came a point when Deacon Schultz thought there must be more to life.

"I'm 30, and God must have a better plan," he said.

He spoke and prayed with Father Brian Bashista, diocesan Director of Vocations, and in the fall of 2003 entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

Throughout his seminary years he had the support of family, friends and the priests of the Arlington diocese where he served on summer assignments. He's also grateful for the support of Marcus and Kerry Green for whom he worked before he entered seminary.

"(They) influenced me greatly with their care and encouragement for me, as well as their faithful living out of the Gospel in their daily life," he said.

As he approaches his ordination day, he said he's both nervous and excited.

"I want nothing more than to be a holy priest of Jesus Christ," he said.

He asked for the prayers of all people of the Arlington diocese.

He is also thankful.

"I'm grateful for the gift of the vocation and to the bishop to (allow me) to serve the diocese," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2009