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Deacon Nicholas Schierer ordained in Rome

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Deacon Nicholas J. Schierer was ordained Sept. 28 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome along with 31 other seminarians from the Pontifical North American College. Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge concelebrated the Mass. The ordaining prelate was Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, N.J., who served as rector of the seminary when Deacon Schierer entered in 2014. Deacon Schierer’s brother, Father William B. Schierer, a parochial vicar at St. Timothy Church in Chantilly, vested him during the ordination.

Deacon Schierer and the other men were ordained at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter. The chair, a relic enclosed in an ornate chair designed by artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a celebrated symbol of the mission Christ entrusted to St. Peter and the church. The feast of the chair, which is celebrated Feb. 22, dates back at least to the fourth century.

“It was a blessing to be in the Basilica of St. Peter for Deacon Schierer’s ordination and to see his joy and the joy of all in attendance due to the witness of these men who give their lives for the Church,” said Bishop Burbidge. “May the Lord continue to prepare them to be priests for the people of God.”

“He is a tremendous down-to-earth witness of the joy of the Gospel,” said Father Joel D. Jaffe, director of the Office of Vocations. “His kind, caring and light-hearted demeanor will be a great asset to his ministry in the church.”

Deacon Schierer was born to Ann and Daniel Schierer in Fairfax Oct. 12, 1986, one of four boys. He attended St. Joseph School in Herndon and graduated from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax in 2005. He studied history and religion at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. His home parish is St. Veronica Church in Chantilly.

Deacon Schierer thought about becoming a priest throughout his childhood. But when his older brother applied for the seminary, Deacon Schierer put his hopes for the priesthood on hold. “I didn’t want to do what he was doing having been called his name and our oldest brother’s name my entire life at that point,” said Deacon Schierer. But the feeling didn’t go away.

“It was two years after college when I was working that I came back to the idea of the priesthood and truly began discerning if it was the vocation God has called me to,” said Deacon Schierer. “The exact moment was at a Sunday Mass at the consecration. I looked at the priest (and) I thought I could do that and be happy doing that for the rest of my life.”

Since he entered seminary, his priest brother has been a source of “constant support,” said Deacon Schierer. “He is part of the example for what kind of priest I want to be.”

Deacon Schierer attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., before studying at the North American College in Rome. In both places, he attended Mass, said morning and evening prayer and studied with the other seminarians. “There’s just a lot more pasta involved” in Rome, he quipped.

He’s also been able to more fully see the history of the church there.       

“I have been able to walk in the footsteps of so many saints and pray at their tombs being here at the heart of the church. This has allowed me to see and know some saints truly as friends to turn to in prayer,” he said.

When he finishes his studies, Deacon Schierer will be ready to come home. “Studying over here in Rome has given me the grace to know that God really has called me to serve in the Diocese of Arlington and not some other diocese. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder, or at least in this instance, it did for me,” he said. “That is my home and where I belong hopefully in less than a year as a priest.”


Deacon Schierer is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington in June. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017