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‘Indescribable peace’: God called Eveld to priesthood

Playing guitar for his parish’s summer camp led Eveld to discern the priesthood

Published: May 16, 2024   
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor (center right) prays over Cody Eveld (kneeling) at Subiaco Abbey May 19, 2023, during Eveld’s diaconate ordination. (Dwain Hebda)

With his ordination into the priesthood days away, there is no shortage of things on Deacon Cody Eveld’s mind. 

But lately, he said, he’s been thinking a lot about his childhood. 

“I’ve been thinking about growing up and how much that affected my vocation,” Eveld said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how much my parents had to sacrifice — their role that they played in my own vocation, because they raised me in the faith.”

Eveld said his parents worked hard to put him through parochial school, eager to give him the best Catholic education possible. 

As a child, Eveld attended St. Joseph School in Paris, then going to Subiaco Academy. 

“I think whenever I was going through it, you don’t really notice the impact that it has,” Eveld said. “But looking back, I can see the huge impact of being there with the monks, the Benedictine spirituality of prayer and work.”

While Eveld struggled with his prayer life as a teen and young adult, he often thought about the monks. 

“Just seeing them, these men who had given up their lives to serve God, probably had a whole love to do with it,” Eveld said. “... seeing men who were happy and who loved what they did had a big impact on me.”

Eveld attended religious retreats while he was in high school with several friends and remembered the feeling of community that was fostered at the retreats. 

But Eveld’s faith life took a back seat when he attended Lyon College in Batesville from 2014 to 2017.

“In college, I had quit practicing my faith pretty much entirely except for whenever I would come home,” Eveld said. 

Eveld would go to Mass with his family any time he was in town and see all of his church friend. After one Mass, his high school CYM director Sabrina Ketter asked if Eveld would be willing to help with a summer church camp. 

“It sounds crazy to me now,” Eveld said. “‘I was like, what was I doing? … One summer, Sabrina called me again and asked me if I would play music (on the guitar) for the church camp, which is crazy to me because I had never played music for anybody before, like in front of anybody. … That was the only time I’ve done that. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t like the songs … but I ended up saying yes, and I learned all the songs and went out there and played and had a great time.”

It was at that church camp in 2017 that Eveld’s life course would change. 

“There was one night that we had adoration at the church camp,” Eveld recalled. “They had the lights turned off, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to take a little bit of a nap.’”

Eveld drifted off to sleep. When he woke in the darkness in front of the monstrance, he was flooded with thoughts of being a priest. 

“It kind of blindsided me,” Eveld said. “I’d never really seriously considered being a priest. So right there, I was going through a checklist. I was like, ‘Could I do that?’ I’d always wanted a family, and here I was thinking about this.”

Eveld felt a sense of peace he’d never before experienced for the rest of the retreat. 

“I can’t even describe it. It’s completely indescribable,” Eveld said. “And at that point, I hadn’t even been praying that much. … That was my first time to pray in a long time.”

Eveld drove home from the camp, praying instead of listening to music.  

The next week, Eveld bumped into two seminarians at the time — John Marconi, nephew of priests Father Joe Marconi and Father John Marconi, and Joe Friend — at his parish where they were serving on the summer evangelization team. Eveld shared with Friend how he was feeling, and Friend called his uncle, then-vocations director Msgr. Scott Friend, to discuss Eveld’s discernment. 

“Everything just lined up,” he said. 

Not long after, Eveld was attending the funeral of Msgr. Bernard Malone in 2017 when a priest approached him. 

“He found out who I was, and he said, ‘I’ve been praying for you since I was in seminary. I’ve been praying that one of the Eveld boys would go to seminary,’” he said. “That was very cool.”

Eveld struggled with the rigorous courses and lessons at the House of Formation in Little Rock but ultimately overcame each challenge he faced. 

Eveld said Father Jerome Kodell, OSB, former abbot of Subiaco Abbey, inspired Eveld’s love of theology through mentoring him. Eveld graduated from Newman University in Wichita, Kan.

“I’ve learned so much more about the Catholic faith,” Eveld said. “Obviously, I grew up in it and everything, but there’s always more to learn.”

Now, with his priestly ordination around the corner, Eveld is reflecting on how far he’s come and what he most looks forward to. 

“I think these last couple of years, just as a deacon, being able to go to a parish over the last summer and be a deacon in Batesville, that was great. It was really hard to come back to school after doing that,” Eveld said with a laugh. “You get ordained, you get to go be in a parish, to preach and to be with people. Every day, doing what I’ve been called to do. It was awesome.”

Eveld is excited for his assignment at Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro, reunited with pastor Msgr. Friend. 

“I’m ready to get to Jonesboro and see what the Lord has in store for me,” Eveld said. “The thing I’m most excited about is preaching. I take it very seriously, and I want to keep that up forever.”

Eveld is also excited to celebrate Mass and hear confessions, helping other Catholics experience God’s mercy as he did. 

Eveld encouraged other young people who might be considering a vocation to “not be afraid.”

“... It seems so scary — you’re giving up all this stuff, and it is so easy to go away from the Lord. It can be a bit scary to come back — you can be afraid to come back. It’s like, ‘I’ve done all this stuff — not going to church, just sinning of whatever.’ We think that the Lord’s not going to welcome us back or something. And that’s not true. So I think, just don’t be afraid, if that’s what God is calling you to do. … truly pray about that … and find what the Lord is calling you to do.”

 

Cody Eveld, 28

Parents: Doug and Kelly Eveld

Parish: Sacred Heart Church, Charleston

Seminary: Three years at the House of Formation in Little Rock, two years at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio and final two years at St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana.

First assignment: Associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro

Favorite Scripture: Psalm 70

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