New: We welcome three new seminarians

September 16, 2021

Vocations logo

The following three men have entered the seminary this fall. Here they explain why they took this step.

By Greg Kinsernull

St. Anthony Parish, Des Moines

I have always been drawn to the religious life.

I was raised in a Christian (Protestant, not Catholic) home and my faith has always been at the heart of my life.  For four years, I served as a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship. As things generally do, my faith evolved and matured as I did.

In my senior year of high school, my longtime best friend Dominic became interested in the Catholic faith. Together we made the decision to join RCIA and ever since our confirmation, we have felt at home in the Catholic Church.

Interestingly, I never really felt called to the priesthood until over a year after being confirmed into the Catholic Church. I wanted to study graphic design at Iowa State, and that is what I did.

After my first year at Iowa State, I was working a landscaping job over the summer. One day, about halfway through the summer, I was in the middle of a very tedious task of pulling weeds. I had the whole area to myself and my mind began to wander. My mind was practically blank at this point, until something, almost like a voice, but more like a thought, although not exactly my own thought, appeared: “You should be a priest.”

I was confused, having no idea where the thought came from or why it came to me in the middle of my work. Yet I was filled with a deep peace at the thought of me becoming a priest. I brought the idea up to my family and closest friends and received their understanding and full support. That peace that I felt while pulling weeds has remained with me and only deepened to this day, over three years later.



St. Jean Vianney said, “A priest goes to heaven or a priest goes to hell with a thousand people behind.” I believe he is correct. A priest, as any man should, should be concerned with becoming a saint. A priest also should be concerned with the souls of his parishioners. Therefore, when asked about where I believe the priesthood will take me, my answer is: down the road God wishes me to go, hopefully ending at the gates of heaven, with a thousand people behind.

By Luke Mohannull

St. Francis of Assisi, West Des Moines

I attended grade school at my home parish of St. Francis of Assisi before going on to Dowling Catholic High School and eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Grinnell College.

I am now attending St. Paul Seminary for two years of pre-theology.

While I was raised Catholic, being a priest never seriously crossed my mind until my sophomore year of college. I was considering changing majors and career paths and for some reason I thought, “You should consider whether you are called to the priesthood.”

At first, I hoped this “consideration” would lead to crossing the priesthood off a list of possible life paths.

This did not happen, and the more I prayed and considered what might be God’s will for me, the more interior peace I felt about being a priest (despite a bit of exterior anxiety).

Around this time I began attending the Traditional Latin Mass, which both deepened my faith in general and really awakened me to the gravity of the priesthood.

When this feeling of peace did not go away, I resolved to enter seminary and continue my discernment there.

By Blake Riffelnull

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, West Des Moines

Growing up, I had a strong desire to live a meaningful and purposeful life. For most of my life, that looked like becoming a husband and father, staying engaged with parish life through a lifetime of discipleship, and pursuing a career in electrical engineering.

Through many ups and downs and quite a few unexpected turns, the Lord started planting seeds in my heart – and scattering them through the lips of those around me – that perhaps he was calling me to reconsider what I was previously so certain of.

For quite a while, I tried to satisfy that interior unrest through more and more engagement and ministry opportunities in the parish and across the Diocese, job changes, the list goes on and on.

When I finally realized I had been planning and scheming my own way through my vocation discernment without honestly inviting the Lord to shepherd me in this journey, I was slowly opened to the idea that the Lord was calling me to seriously discern the priesthood. Previously insurmountable walls in my heart started to be removed.

The Lord has been exceptionally consoling on my vocation journey so far, and I am grateful for all the works that he continues in my heart and in my life.

I am thankful for everyone’s prayers thus far in my vocation discernment, and I am hopeful the Lord continues to call me to the priesthood to serve as an “alter Christus” for the people of the Diocese of Des Moines. Peace, blessings, and joy to you – and I will see you in the Eucharist.

Please, in your charity, pray for my fellow seminarians and me as we discern if God wills us to be priests.