Deacon Alex Kramer
2021-22: Theology IV
Pontifical North American College, Vatican City
While in kindergarten, I watched a documentary about the Vatican and the pope. I didn't really understand everything that was going on in the documentary, but I knew that it was about the Church and it (the Church) was beautiful. Starting from that point and on, I wanted to be the pope. While I now look back and think about how unrealistic that was, there were many benefits which came from this desire. First, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the pope and the Church. Secondly, I was fascinated and really in love with the Church.
I was able to nurture that attraction to the Church at Catholic school. When I was in fourth grade at Holy Trinity, I had the opportunity to be an altar server. I excitedly volunteered and was even allowed to miss a few minutes of school every morning to serve daily Mass. This brought me closer to the sacraments and especially the role of the priest at Mass.
At Dowling Catholic High School, I was able to continue to learn about and practice the faith openly. I started looking realistically at what a career in the Church is. I had the opportunity to attend events like an Andrew Dinner, where young men meet with priests and have a meal together just to talk about what it means to be a priest. There were also chances for me to grow in relationship with Jesus on retreats like Kairos and Radix. I was able to be an altar server at Dowling, which is a different atmosphere than when serving at a parish, and got to know other Christ-centered men. These were great gifts that I am so thankful for receiving from my time at Dowling.
There were many who helped and showed me what being a priest means: Monsignor Stessman, my pastor when I was young; Monsignor Chiodo at Holy Trinity school; Father Amadeo, my current pastor, who let me take a higher role in the Mass as a Master of Ceremonies and encouraged me to enter seminary; and Father Kautzky, the chaplin of Dowling, a wonderful example of how the Church is young and vibrant. All of these men helped shape the way I think about the priesthood.
The other big factor that influenced my desire to enter seminary was the seminarians of our diocese. They are all joyous and Christ centered which is something I strive for. When I was considering joining the seminary there were many young men who were answering the call. One encouraged me to get the application to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Des Moines. I took it filled it out and was accepted by Bishop Richard Pates in the spring 2014.