Got a little story for ya, Ags…
Twins. Born and raised in a faithful Catholic family in the hills outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. Together, they come to Texas A&M University. They look alike. Even friends sometimes call them by the other’s name. They might look the same, but their paths end up uniquely beautiful.
One twin discerns a call to the priesthood. He plans to enter seminary. The other twin is struggling. Should he pursue discerning the priesthood more intensely… or date this pretty Chemical Engineering major he met on an Aggie Awakening retreat? He does what any good college guy does with questions like these.
He asks his priest.
Bradley met with Fr. David (former St. Mary’s pastor, now Bishop David Konderla of the Diocese of Tulsa) to help him with this struggle.
Fr. David’s advice was short and to the point, as usual. “You can’t discern a relationship unless you’re in it. Date her and see how it goes.”
The rest is history.
Bradley Eilers graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Computer Engineering. Brian Eilers graduated the same day with a degree in Psychology.
Bradley married that pretty girl from Aggie Awakening, and Brian entered the seminary.
Bradley, ‘97 and Susanna, ‘00 have four children, who will hopefully grace the halls of TAMU and St. Mary’s not too long from now. Fr. Brian, ‘97 was ordained at St. Mary’s in College Station in 2004 for the Diocese of Austin. He currently serves as Vice Rector and Human Formation Advisor at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
Looking back, Susanna Eilers shares, “I think their story shows how we have to try something to know whether it’s the right path for us. That was Bishop Konderla’s point! We can’t sit back and figure out our vocation on paper. We have to have experiences and discern within those experiences. Our paths aren’t just figured out for us. We have the gift of free will and we get to choose. That’s why our experiences and our prayerful discernment are so important.”
When asked to share his thoughts on discernment at St. Mary’s, Fr. Brian Eilers had this to say,
The advice of Sr. Mary Fagan who said, “Discernment is finding the intersection of my greatest joy and the world’s greatest need,” helped me to be open to discerning the priesthood. I realized that God wants me to be happy and is calling me to a way of life which is both the cross and true joy. St. Mary’s invited me and all those in the community to make space for God, to know and worship God and to help others in this journey. In the midst of this community, I realized more clearly that my true joy would be serving God and his people as a priest.Fr. Mike, Fr. Dean and later, Fr. David, each embodied priesthood beautifully – in communion with God and a life given for others. Fr. Mike would be in his office until midnight – we knew because we would see his light on. Fr. Dean knew everyone by name. He was always ready to have a good laugh, to hang out at the Chicken and happy to hear your confession or have a serious talk. Fr. David kept us guessing with his witty one-liners like, “You think it’s hot in here; it’s hotter in hell,” for a summer daily Mass homily when the A/C was out.I loved my time at St. Mary’s. I came to know God’s love and mercy to new depths and to set a course for life based on this rather than the many other things the world wanted me to live for. For that I will be eternally grateful.