Over the past eight years, Deacon Daniel Wendel’s view on discernment and the priesthood has changed.
“It is sort of strange,” he said. “Over the time you enter the seminary, you think the Lord is focused on what you have to offer. The good qualities, the gifts he has given you. But he isn’t only calling you in the gifts he has given you. Are you weak enough to be a priest? Are you broken enough to be a priest? Are you afraid enough to be a priest? It is kind of like St. Paul says. We like to claim the good things and gifts as our own. When we claim those as our own, it is harder for Christ to work through them. It is in our weakness that Christ works in us the most… Seminary is trying to show you he is calling all of you. He is calling your brokenness and your goodness at the same time.”
Wendel, who grew up at Christ the King Church in Little Rock, will be ordained a priest by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 28 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.
The past four years at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio has reaffirmed in him that he needs to model humility.
“The greatest attribute that Christ wants his priests to show is humility. That is truly the apex of his entire life. He humbled himself to become incarnate, to become one of us… The point at which he saves us all is by humbling himself to die like all of us.”
Other qualities he wants to emulate he credits to his parents, Dr. Paul and Kathy Wendel.
“My parents are incredible people for me,” he said. “My dad has taught me a lot of mercy and my mom has taught me gentleness and love. My dad has also taught me to wield authority with grace and to lead others.”
His spiritual fatherly mentor has been his former pastor, Bishop Francis I. Malone of Shreveport, who will preach at Wendel’s first Mass.
“He has taught me to love the liturgy so much,” he said. “He has been there for all the moments of my life. He is a great spiritual father. That is what I want to emulate as a priest, just to be present in people’s lives. You don’t always remember the homilies that priests preach, but what you will remember is whether they were there or not. He was always there.”
For his first assignment as associate pastor at St. Raphael Church in Springdale, Wendel said he wants to emphasize the importance of family life and marriage.
“Something that has been on my heart is the duty of family life,” he said. “The greatest and most numerous vocation in the Church is marriage. Sometimes I think that vocation, as prevalent as it is, can lose focus in parish life. There needs to be a lot more offered to people living this vocation of marriage.”
Wendel said he is keenly aware of how many people have prayed for him to reach his ordination day. His service in the Church will be a small way to thank them.
“Those prayers have gotten me to today,” he said. “I am grateful to the people of Arkansas. People have prayed for me in a way I can never repay, but what I am asked to do is carry that forward and serve the people of God… to serve as many years as he needs me to serve.”
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