Fr. Kevin Mues Ordination to the Priesthood

A Q& A with the Diocese of Shreveport’s Newest Ordained Priest

During your time in seminary, what are some of the moments that have encouraged your vocation?
The things that have been most encouraging to me during my seminary experience were often the things that I had the most apprehension about. God has put me in places where I could learn and grow, and that hasn’t always been easy. The mission trips we took to Guatemala and Nicaragua as well as the Spanish language program I took in Mexico were really tough challenges because I had to adapt and experience a language and culture that remain unfamiliar. The love and depth of faith that I experienced from the people in those places was inspiring and made the challenges worthwhile.

I taught CCD at a New Orleans parish for two years and had to think of ways to make the faith interesting and exciting for young high school students. I think the most difficult part was tying the theological language I was taught in seminary with my own experience of God in order to bring the kids I was teaching to a fuller relationship with Christ. The trials that high schoolers face today seem harder than I remember from 11 years ago. I had to re-learn how to navigate the tough questions of youth while still bringing the light and hope of the Gospel to them in a real and accessible way.

My experience of hospital ministry was the most challenging of all the practical experiences I had during my years in seminary. At first, I was afraid to even knock on a door and go into a room. I didn’t want to be one more person who came in and woke up a patient or made the suffering of a hospital stay more taxing. The greatest thing I learned from that ministerial experience is that my fear of making mistakes or being out of place was far less important than the grace I could bring to a moment of suffering if I faced that fear and crossed that threshold. I walked with families during times of real joy and real pain during that experience, and I grew to understand in an intimate way that God could use me with all my own weaknesses and limitations.

What do you look forward to most about being a priest?
What a huge question! I look forward to being able to be a part of the lives and the faith of the parish. A priest is called to serve and I look forward to serving parishioners both spiritually and sacramentally. I can’t wait until I’m able to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, to bring the sacraments of healing to people in need, and to begin the ministerial mission of priesthood. My hope is to join couples in matrimony, unite their children to God in baptism, and to watch as their families grow in their faith. I feel blessed to be called to walk with families and to serve them with the grace that I receive through ordination.

Have there been any role models who have helped you in this decision, or encouraged you in your vocation?
I don’t think I would have heard and responded to God’s call if it hadn’t been echoed through the encouragement of the people of Monroe who took the time to ask me, “Have you ever prayed about a vocation to the priesthood?” That invitation by the people I knew and respected at the Catholic Campus Ministry in Monroe, as well as the encouragement and support of Fr. Job Edathinatt Scaria, CMI got me to start asking the questions of God and of the diocese that I needed to ask. Fr. Matthew Long’s encouragement as the vocation director and his continued support throughout my seminary education gave me a good foundational example that has helped me tremendously.

The friendship with the seminarians that I began seminary with that have gone on to become priests has been inspiring. Fr. Keith Garvin, Fr. Jerry Daigle,
Fr. Fidel MondragÓn, and Fr. Duane Trombetta each gave me an example to strive for as I pursued my studies. Equally important was the encouragement I felt from the parishes that I have been assigned to and where I’ve spent time. While I haven’t been to every single parish in our diocese, I have felt the support of the entire diocese during my time in seminary formation. The people of St. Joseph Parish in Mansfield, the people of Christ the King Parish in Bossier City, and the people at St. Jude Parish in Benton, as well as the other parishes where I volunteered for shorter periods of time have given me the lived experience of ministry that can’t be imparted in the classroom. The people from these parishes as well as the friends that I have from the parishes in Monroe have helped to make this diocese my home. I’ve felt more loved than I could have ever asked for during my time in seminary.

What advice would you give a man who is beginning to discern priesthood?
My first thought is that we all need to be discerning! God is calling all of us to holiness and we could all spend more time in prayer seeking to do His will. Oftentimes, I think young men and women who feel a calling to priesthood or religious life expect a theophany, a thunderous voice of God from the clouds to point them in the right vocational direction. Just like for Elijah, God’s voice in our lives is often a whisper that we have to seek in prayer and through our reception of the sacraments. The great thing is that we don’t have to lean in and hear that voice alone. For those who think they may have a calling to the priesthood: Speak up! Discernment is a process you don’t need to do by yourself, and the Office of Vocations in the diocese is always available to give guidance and help.

Fr. Jerry wants to bring happy, holy vocations to the service of our diocese. He will provide the guidance and help you need in order to start your discernment of God’s will. Discernment is a long process and it must be done within and in concert with the local Church or religious community that you are seeking.

 Looking back to when you first entered seminary and then to where you are now, what have been some of the things that have played out as you expected? Some that haven’t?
When I was told that my formation would mean six years in school, I thought that it was going to feel like a lifetime. Looking back, it seems to have flown by. I am so grateful for my two years at St. Joseph’s Abbey and Seminary College and my four years at Notre Dame Seminary. When I first started out, the seminary experience was a scary one. Not having ever been in such a completely Catholic environment, being expected to stick to a rigorous schedule of prayer and classes, and in the midst of all that still trying to discern whether I was even called to the priesthood, was daunting. It was only with the help of my professors and formators, the priests back home, and the support of my family and friends that I was able to give myself over to the process of seminary life and formation.

I couldn’t have imagined the friendship and close fraternity that I already feel to the priests of the Diocese of Shreveport. I can’t wait to be a “coworker in the vineyard” with them.

In college I had professors I respected and cared about, but the formators at both of my seminaries showed me an example of true fatherhood. Their example as priests helped me find my gifts and strengths and see areas where I could grow.

Finally, I never thought that I would have this much love and excitement for the Diocese of Shreveport. Great things are happening in our diocese and now I get to be a part of them again, only this time as a priest.

Who would you like to thank?
If I took the time to thank every person who has helped me along the way, this month’s Catholic Connection would look more like a phone book than a magazine. I am always thankful for the support of my family. Each of them honors the reality of my vocation in a unique way. I have also been very blessed in my close personal friendships – people who have remained a part of my daily life across the miles. The encouragement of Bishop Michael Duca in his time here as our bishop was wonderful. He took the time to get to know his seminarians. He cared about my vocation, giving me the guidance and encouragement I needed to continue.

The priests of our diocese that have helped me throughout this process have given me the example of what it means to be a servant and a leader.
The parish staffs who have let me learn from them as they helped to guide their parishes have been amazing and dynamic. They set the example for the kinds of people I need to look for when I become a pastor one day. The people of the diocese have helped give me courage during all the different challenges we have met together in my time in seminary. I owe a great debt of gratitude for their love and support as well as for the love and support of all the people who faithfully sustained me with generous gifts as I pursued my studies.

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