After attending Saint John Vianney College across the street from The Saint Paul Seminary, Nathaniel Daubner of the Diocese of St. Cloud is in his second year of major formation. He sat down to discuss his discernment for the priesthood and what he’s looking forward to as that journey continues.
How would you describe your time at The Saint Paul Seminary so far?
My first year here was a blessing in many, many different ways, and particularly just learning how to be a father. At SJV, the formation was all about making me into a holy and virtuous man. Here at [The Saint Paul Seminary], the formation really focuses on making me into a father, priestly father, a father and a shepherd of your flock. That has just been such a joy for me, just to learn about that and also about the theology behind it, learning how to be Christlike and to allow myself to be sacrificed for others.
Can you describe some of the hands-on experiences that have helped you grow in this way?
This past summer, I was doing hospital ministry, part of the ministry to the sick and suffering program. It was an amazing experience. I was stationed in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities at a nursing home, St. Therese in New Hope, and it was a joyful experience. Probably the thing I took away from it that just really impacted my own life was being able to just walk with people through every kind of experience, from those who were on their deathbed and dying to those who were suffering in very different and unique ways. The one experience that I just really enjoyed in some way it was also a very sad experience was just walking with a family after their loved one had passed away and just being able to pray with them and bring the prayers of the church to them. It was just such a wonderful blessing.
Aside from the ministry to the sick and suffering program another really great program that they have here at the St. Paul Seminary is the teaching parish program. This program pairs you up with a local pastor in a parish and you’re able to just experience parish life. I’m privileged being in the St. Cloud diocese to have been assigned to one of the parishes in my home diocese in Little Falls, and it’s just been such a joy to experience the life of a priest in that context, both the joys and the sufferings, the busyness, the hectic craziness of it all. It’s also just been great to get to know my diocese more through that.
How have these experiences prepared you for ministry in your particular Diocese of St. Cloud?
This last January, we had a diocesan practicum where we got to learn more about our diocese and it was just a wonderful gift to be able to learn the history of our diocese, learn the demographics of my home diocese. Also, just to meet a lot of the people in the offices, the presbyterate, and also the lay faithful themselves. It was just a joy.