Father Kyle Vance shares friendships and Southern Maryland roots with two other new priests – Catholic Standard

(Nov 6-12, 2022 marks National Vocation Awareness Week for the Catholic Church in the United States, a privileged moment to promote and pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life. In this article and two others, three new priests from southern Maryland share their vocation stories.)

The trio of new priests celebrating Mass together that June evening at St. John Francis Regis Church in Hollywood, Maryland had a special bond. Not only had Father Kyle Vance, Father Alexander Wyvill and Father Ryan Braam been ordained priests together for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington two days earlier at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, but they were also friends. and seminary classmates with shared Catholic roots in St. Mary’s County, southern Maryland. Previously, they had also served as summer program advisors at St. John’s.

Father Alexander Wyvill, left, and Father Kyle Vance, right, walk in a procession after being among 10 new priests ordained June 18, 2022 for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception . These two priests and their newly ordained fellow priest, Father Ryan Braam, share Catholic roots in southern Maryland. (SC Photo/Andrew Biraj)

This Thanksgiving Mass marked a homecoming to St. John Francis Regis for all three priests, but it was even truer for Father Vance, who had grown up in the Hollywood parish and had been mentored by the pastor. long time there, Father Raymond Schmidt.

Father Kyle Vance, who turns 29 on November 19, is currently serving his first posting, as parochial vicar at Holy Redeemer Parish in Kensington. Originally from California, he moved to California, Maryland with his family when he was 3 years old, and attended Hollywood Elementary School and Leonardtown High School before earning degrees in math and physics at the ‘University of Maryland at College Park.

After graduating from college, he felt called to the priesthood and entered St. John Paul II Seminary in the Archdiocese in Washington, where fellow seminarians included his friends and fellow Southern Marylanders Alexander Wyvill and Ryan Braam.

“My first Catholic school was the seminary. It was fun to walk into my first Catholic classroom,” Fr. Vance said, recalling his class at the Catholic University of America that had a crucifix on the wall. “For me, it was a welcome transition into the seminary.”

In seminary, he said it was a blessing “to come into this big brotherhood of guys” dedicated to their faith. Among his fellow seminarians were other men he knew from the University of Maryland and Southern Maryland. “It was great to have this wonderful Catholic fraternity around me,” he said.

During his studies at the University of Maryland, Kyle Vance had oriented himself towards a career involving mathematics and physics. At the Catholic Student Center there, “I deepened my faith,” he said, noting that he began attending daily Mass, received spiritual direction and was part of a Catholic community. active there.

He added, “It was a relief to discover, through the Dominicans at the Catholic Student Center, that faith and science were compatible.”

After his first year there, he served as a counselor in the St. John’s summer program, which he says also “deepened my faith a lot” as counselors and campers attended Mass, worship and other activities together. “It was like a continuation of school, having a good Catholic community,” he said.

While a student at the University of Maryland, the future priest engaged in compelling scientific research, including a summer participating in a project at Louisiana State University to create laser lights more precision for experiments that detect gravity waves, and the following summer in Maryland participating in physics research, data analysis for a group of dark matter.

But he said that despite his studies and scientific work, something was missing from his life. He began to discern religious life and visited Dominican, Cistercian, and Benedictine communities, and in his senior year also considered doing missionary work at the FOCUS Catholic campus after graduation. And he still considered embarking on a career involving math and physics.

Then he participated in a vocation discernment weekend sponsored by the Archdiocese. “I was just praying about it last semester in college,” he said. “I wanted certainty with my math background, but I trusted in God’s providence to lead me where he wanted me to be.”

Kyle Vance then felt called to enter seminary, and he felt “at peace with it,” he said. Six years later, he was ordained a priest in the archdiocese on June 18, 2022, alongside nine other young men, including his two friends from southern Maryland.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, right, anoints the hands of Father Kyle Vance during the June 18, 2022 ordination of 10 new priests for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington at the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. (SC Photo/Andrew Biraj)

The new priest was interviewed by the Catholic standard late August, a week he had just helped welcome pupils back to Holy Redeemer School in Kensington. During his first months of service in this parish, he had already been busy celebrating masses, hearing confessions, doing many baptisms for families and visiting nearby retirement homes. On his days off, he often reunites with priest friends with whom he studied in the seminary.

Asked about his new life as a priest, Father Vance replied, “I really like it. He added: “There’s also a lot of learning on the job.”

He expressed gratitude to his former pastor of St. John Francis Regis in his home parish in Hollywood, saying Father Raymond Schmidt was there for him and very supportive as he felt called to the priesthood. “He was a great priestly witness,” Fr. Vance said.

Father Schmidt, who delivered the homily at the new priest’s first mass at St. John’s the day after his ordination, said in an interview that it was very moving for him to watch Kyle Vance grow up and become a priest. . “It feels like on some level he’s a spiritual son, and now, a spiritual brother to me,” he said.

The St. John’s pastor said he was also very happy when Fr. Vance was assigned to Holy Redeemer Parish, where he would serve with pastor Fr. Mark Hughes, who has been friends with Fr. Schmidt since they studied together in seminary for more than four decades. from.

When Father Vance found out he would be ordained a priest along with his two friends and fellow Southern Marylanders, he helped organize Thanksgiving Mass in his home parish. That evening, Father Vance, Father Wyvill, and Father Braam celebrated Mass together at the parish where they had been counselors in the St. John’s summer program, and they were able to pray and express their thanks to the Southern Maryland Catholics who had supported them all the way.

“It was really cool to be there with all of them and to have this southern Maryland priesthood fellowship,” he said. “It worked well. It was good that we were able to have the first individual masses and have this event where everyone could come together.

St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland had been the place where, in 1634, Jesuit Father Andrew White celebrated the first Catholic Mass in the English colonies, at St. Clement’s Island. This summer, three young priests from this region wrote their own story.

“There is something special about southern Maryland,” Father Vance said. “It was great to have the three guys from southern Maryland ordained together. It was also a great moment for the Southern Maryland community.

Standing center left to right in the front row are Fr Alexander Wyvill, Fr Ryan Braam and Fr Kyle Vance, joined by priests and seminarians for a group photo before the three new priests celebrate a mass on June 20, 2022 at St John Francis Regis Parish in Hollywood, Maryland, two days after being ordained to the priesthood at the National Shrine. These three priests share Catholic roots in southern Maryland. (Photo courtesy of St. John Francis Regis Parish)

Related stories:

Three new priests share Southern Maryland roots, including Father Alex Wyvill, who says ‘being Catholic is the air I breathed’

Trained in the faith in southern Maryland, Father Ryan Braam serves there as a new priest

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