Mark Ohlemeier was ordained into the Sacred Order of Presbyters at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield on Saturday, January 13, 2018.The Rev. Mark Ohlemeier Two-minute read. Resources
As the grandson of an Episcopal priest, I was raised with a healthy faith in the risen Christ. I regularly attended church with my family, went to Sunday school, served as an acolyte, and my parents instilled within me a strong belief in the love of God and of my role as a servant to the Lord. Throughout my childhood, however, there was a small, quiet voice in the back of my mind calling me to something even greater, but that voice gradually faded as I replaced it with other interests during my adolescence and college years.
I stopped attending church while I was in college, enjoying a new found freedom to make my own choices, but a few years after my graduation I felt as though something was missing in my life. I returned to regular Sunday worship and was instantly reminded of God’s unfailing love for me, even during those times when I was distant. Furthermore, the soft voice I had heard as a child returned, but I quickly dismissed it as simply a fanciful notion from my past. I eventually married a wonderful woman, and a couple years later we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. My new family became faithful and devoted members of the church, and as far as I was concerned, that was enough — more than I deserved — and each day I thanked the Lord for everything I had been given in my life.
The quiet and small voice, however, continued unabated. I tried to satisfy it by getting more involved in various lay ministries — lector, vestry member, ceremonial verger, etc. — but the urge for more would not cease. I also began to perceive similar suggestions from family members and friends, people who saw some sort of pastoral quality within me that I could not see and had been denying for years. The heavens then converged when I was facing a decision in my employment and a crossroads in my life. I was having a very difficult time ignoring the voice this time. After countless hours of consultation with family and clergy, and even more time spent in deep personal prayer, I entered the discernment process to convince myself whether or not ordained ministry was the path where God was leading me to.
I emerged from discernment with a confidence that the priesthood was, indeed, what God was calling me to pursue. My three years of seminary at the School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, were some of the most joyous in my life, even with all the struggles and heartbreak and challenges that I faced during this time. I was ordained to the diaconate on June 17, 2017, in Grace Cathedral in Topeka, Kansas — coincidentally, my sending parish — and was ordained to the priesthood on January 13, 2018, at Christ Church in Springfield in the warm embrace of the congregation where I have been serving as curate. And through it all, I have continued to be surrounded by a loving and supportive group of family and friends, a body of Christ that, as I look back, has been with me on every step of my journey. I can only hope and pray that this new chapter in my life is devoted to reflecting on all of the blessings I have been given throughout the years, and that I may be strengthened to spread the joy of God’s love and mercy to others.