VERSAILLES — Last year, 19 local men studying to be Catholic priests each received a $1,000 scholarship from a community fund that supports religious vocations. Every seminarian from the Sidney and St. Mary’s deaneries of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati received an award from the North Deaneries Seminarian Fund of the Darke County Foundation.
The permanent scholarship endowment was established in 2013 by Melvin and Mary Ann Stucke, of Versailles, and the fund has grown with additional donations from the community. The Stuckes have committed to match any 2018-19 donation up to $300. One hundred percent of donations go directly into the Seminarian Fund.
In thanking donors for last year’s support, seminarians made these remarks:
“Your generosity and support are very encouraging and give me new energy as I continue on my journey towards the priesthood. When I entered the seminary, I did not know how I was going to pay for it all. Being the eighth of nine kids in my family, money was a concern. So for you to donate a scholarship makes me extremely grateful. Please be at peace in your life and know I will be praying for you all!”
“I extend my heartfelt appreciation for awarding me a scholarship towards my priestly formation. This is a sign that I am not alone on my journey. I am aware that each one of you has sacrificed his/her resources to donate towards this effort. May the good Lord reward you, give you good health, and bless your families. With God’s grace, I will be ordained a deacon this year. Be assured of my constant prayers for you, now as a seminarian and in the future as a priest.”
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generous support of the seminarians of the archdiocese. This donation makes a big impact on me and has reduced my need for loans. These funds have not only helped with my academic debt but allowed me to travel and live in parishes that cannot afford a full-time seminarian in the summer. A visiting seminarian helps the priest of the parish and also gives a great vocational witness to the youth who have not seen a seminarian in their parish in over 20 years.”
“I know that this tremendous gift comes with the deep faith and prayers of you all. My faith was first cultivated among the faithful men and women of Midwest Ohio. Amidst the corn and soybeans, our towns grow a rich love for God and thus we see vocations to the priesthood, religious life and holy marriages spring forth. I will pray for each of you by name. Please pray that I may persevere in my studies and one day be able to celebrate Mass with you all as a priest.”
“As we study for the priesthood, it is a moving experience to see the amount of support we have from the faithful, many of whom we have not met. I like to think that your generosity materially is also reinforced by a great amount of prayers, which we need so greatly. Please continue to pray for more laborers for His harvest.”
Melvin emphasized that most seminarians incur tuition and living expenses aside from any financial assistance provided by the archdiocese or religious order. Undergraduate students in college seminaries receive limited assistance from the archdiocese.
“We invite the community to join us in this effort to reinforce young men in their priestly studies,” said Melvin. “We feel that through the encouragement and prayer of so many supporters, the number of Catholic priests will continue to increase.”
Donors may make a tax-deductible donation to the fund by writing a check to the Darke County Foundation (memo: Seminarian Fund). Mail to: Darke County Foundation, P.O. Box 438, Greenville, OH 45331. For more information, contact Melvin Stucke at 937-526-3801.