As a transitional deacon, Elgin native hopes to help others understand God’s love for them
May 25, 2023
Zach Eischeid was in third or fourth grade when he told his mom, Karen, that he thought he was going to be a priest. She said that would be nice but didn’t say much more.
“Inside, I was just jumping for joy,” Karen said. “And after he told me that, from that day on, I prayed every day that he knew what his vocation would be. Every day.”
Years later, when Eischeid was a student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, he told his mother he was thinking of entering the seminary and Karen’s “heart was so happy. I was just so happy.” But again, she didn’t want to act overly excited. She knew it was Eischeid who would have to discern his vocation. She advises other mothers who have sons discerning a call to the priesthood to do the same.
“Just let God work,” Karen said. “Let the Holy Spirit work. If he’s supposed to be one, he will be one. There are situations when you think you should do something, but it’s not you. It’s God.”
Friday, Eischeid will take his first step into ordained ministry as he becomes a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Omaha. The ordination is at St. Cecilia Cathedral at 7 p.m., with a reception to follow in the Monsignor Graham Building. All are invited to attend.
Eischeid said that recently, the reality of being ordained a transitional deacon has really set in.
“I was praying my holy hour a couple of days ago, and the realization of what’s happening just hit me. All the nerves and the butterflies, just like a whole bunch of emotions came. Just thinking about the ministry – I’m going to be doing baptisms and funerals. It’s like, wow. It’s real. It’s happening.”
Eischeid is the youngest of three siblings. His older sister and brother are both married and have children, but he can’t imagine being anything other than a priest. For the past year, he has been taking a class on homilies which he really enjoys, despite being shy. He also is looking forward to hearing confessions as a priest.
“To be with somebody and show them the mercy that only God can give,” he said. “It’s a very intimate moment.”
Eischeid encourages anyone considering a vocation to the priesthood to “take the leap” and see what it is all about.
“There’s no bad option if you pursue it,” he said. “We have guys who enter the seminary for a couple of years or even one year and come out a better man. If you try to do the will of God, if that’s your goal, He is not going to leave you abandoned. He’s always going to help you out.”
For his part, Eischeid understands that if he had ignored his calling, he would never have been fulfilled. His time in the seminary helped him to realize “who I am and how God sees me and loves me in that.”
Eischeid hopes he can help others share in that experience of understanding God’s love for them as part of his ministry.
“Those were some very pivotal moments,” he said. “I’d be a whole different person if I hadn’t experienced that.”
While Karen knows Eischeid made his decision on his own – with the Holy Spirit working in him – she can’t help to think he had some other help. She believes that Eischeid’s father, Paul, who died when Eischeid was in fifth grade at St. Boniface grade school-Elgin, has been praying for him, as well. If Paul were still alive, he and Karen would bring the gifts up at Mass Friday evening. Instead, his siblings will accompany her.
Eischeid has no doubt his mother will be beaming throughout the Mass. Like most sons, he remains patient and slightly amused as his mom revels in this profound moment.
“She’s super excited for it. At times, it’s like, ‘Okay, mom, let’s slow down a little bit. Like, let’s take it easy, you know?’ But she’s super excited, super proud,” Eischeid said.
Eischeid will spend the summer at Sacred Heart Parish-Norfolk and return to Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis in the fall. As a transitional deacon, he will proclaim the Gospel and preach at Masses, distribute Holy Communion, preside at baptisms and wake services, and perform other parish duties.
Those who cannot attend the Mass can watch it here.