Seminarian Speaks: Deacon Matthew Solyntjes

This is part of a continuing series introducing the seminarians of the Diocese of Sioux City to readers of The Catholic Globe. If you would like to adopt a seminarian – either with prayers or care packages – contact Father Shane Deman at demans@scdiocese.org or (712) 233-7522.

Name: Deacon Matthew Solyntjesmatthew-solyntjes

Home Parish: St. Andrew, Sibley

Son of: Scott and Shirley Solyntjes

High school: 2005 Sibley-Ocheyedan

University: 2010 Iowa State University-Ames, B.S. management information systems and minor in Russian and Eastern European studies

Name of seminary currently attending: St. Meinrad (Ind.) Seminary and School of Theology

Year in seminary: Theology IV (my last year)

To what or whom do you attribute your interest in the priesthood: In college, I finally started asking God what he wanted me to do with my life. Challenges to the faith of my youth encouraged me to learn more about it and seek God on a personal level in my prayer. I became fascinated by what I read and what I witnessed in the lives of priests – men who were in love with God and his people, even when times were extremely difficult. The priests I knew were full of love and hope when there seemed to be plenty of reasons in the world not to be. I wondered, “What did they know that I didn’t?” I wanted to find out for myself.

Coke or Pepsi: Coke

Most important thing you have learned in seminary: Cultivating my human character is essential for a fulfilling and loving life rooted in Christ. That’s true for any Christian. All of the philosophy and theology I’m taught in seminary is only useful to the extent I integrate it into how I act every day. Of course, this is an ongoing process I’ll never complete, and I need the aid of God’s grace. If I do not cultivate good natural habits, like taking care of my health or always speaking well of others, then I end up interfering with the supernatural gifts of God. My ability to love as Christ loves stays restricted.

Pancakes or French toast: French toast

Most used app on your phone: Text messaging

Three characteristics of a joyful priest: A joyful priest knows God like a friend by spending time with him every day – in prayer, in the sacraments, and in the little breaks during the day’s work. A joyful priest is also at peace with himself, his limitations and brokenness. When he can accept himself this way, he more easily accepts the shortcomings of others. Lastly, a joyful priest does other things besides work. He is always a priest, but he is still human! He needs a hobby, and he needs to make time for an annual retreat and vacation time. Everybody is better off when he does these things to “recharge.”

Saint you pray to and why: I ask for St. Francis de Sales’ intercession because he is a model of teaching I want to follow. His skills in pastoring and preaching did not come naturally, he had to learn them. He was a humble, patient man, reluctant to force or unfairly persuade anyone to do what he wanted. He also had a wonderful mind for spiritual writing that proclaimed the call to holiness open for all people.

GM or Ford: GM

Bible story that most resonates with you: The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples is an excitingly rich story. Here is the moment when the guide Jesus Christ promised arrives like tongues of fire. The spirit enters into the diverse and messy world of humanity. Each person understands one another in his own language, and they are unified in the Spirit while maintaining many of their differences. It illustrates that we’re not just left with the sayings of a great teacher–the Spirit of God is working in us.

Guilty-pleasure food: Coq au vin, braised chicken with bacon, mushrooms, and red wine

What is something about you people would be surprised to learn: I went ice fishing on Lake of the Woods which is on the border of Minnesota and Canada.

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