When Anchorage seminarian Deacon Kevin Klump reflects upon his journey towards the Catholic priesthood, he can see the hand of God in the small details, even the dates of his diaconal and priestly ordinations.
Last summer he was ordained a deacon on his 26th birthday, and this summer he is scheduled to be ordained a priest on June 28, which is also the anniversary of his baptism. Both dates fall on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, details that are not lost on Deacon Klump as he finishes his final year of preparation for the priesthood. Although these dates were not selected to align with these significant anniversaries, he muses, “Maybe God planned it that way.”
Deacon Klump has kept busy since becoming a transitional deacon. Before heading back to St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., he spent the summer ministering at 11 Alaska parishes throughout the Anchorage Archdiocese and being mentored by their pastors. Over the summer, he experienced the unique vastness of the church in Alaska.
“I put on 2,600 car miles and visited three parishes that I had to fly out to,” he said. “So that was pretty exciting.”
During this sojourn, he preached, made home visits and celebrated Communion services at various parishes. He also got his hands dirty helping with manual labor like removing willow trees and demolishing the old church building in Dillingham.
“I got to learn under a number of pastors over the summer, which was a huge gift,” Deacon Klump reflected.
Having returned to Minnesota for his final year of seminary, he has been busy with classes and assisting at his teaching parish, St. Francis de Sales in Saint Paul. The seminary’s teaching parish program has allowed Deacon Klump to experience ministry within a parish for the past four years.
As a deacon, he is now able to dive deeper into this ministry, preaching at Masses and giving house blessings for parishioners. He also meets with a committee of parishioners who help form him as a future pastor.
This final year of seminary is filled with more intense preparation for preaching and the celebration of the sacraments. He takes classes that guide him through the various liturgical books, learns how to engage in pastoral counseling, and practices preaching in front of his peers and a priest professor. He also does practice baptisms and confessions.
For their confession practicum, seminarians hear mock confessions to experience what being a confessor priest is like, all while under the guidance of an experienced priest.
Beyond learning to celebrate a wedding liturgy, Deacon Klump also has classes related to marriage. These include sexual morality, marriage and family life and canon law pertaining to marriage. He will also take a course in church administration, and continue various theological classes such as Mariology and courses on the Trinity and Catholic social teaching.
As his ordination draws nearer, Deacon Klump said he looks forward to receiving the gift of priesthood. He sees it with wonder and awe, as well as fear and trembling. The magnitude of the vocation humbles him, he said.
“I put on my calendar ‘Ordination to the Priesthood of the God of the Universe.’ It’s one of those things that is utterly beyond comprehension,” he said.
Deacon Klump recalled that about a week before his ordination to the transitional diaconate, he was “a puddle of tears,” resulting both from joy and being nervous about embarking on such a lofty mission from God. He expects that he will experience these nerves again — acknowledging that making such an offering of the heart “takes a lot out of a person.”
Throughout his life, Deacon Klump has drawn inspiration from the saints. When asked about his top two, he laughed, finding it difficult to choose just two.
“You asked a big question here, because I love the saints,” he said.
The two he mentioned tirelessly served God, and inspired many conversions. He hopes to model his priesthood on their examples. First, he loves Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin, a distant relative of his. She was a religious sister who wore herself out nursing World War I victims. A formerly Freemason doctor with whom she worked was converted to the faith by her example of charity. She often worked days on end without rest, caring for her patients.
Saint Francis de Sales is another saint who inspires Deacon Klump. The saint’s efforts at converting Calvinists in France seemed fruitless for years, and yet he persevered, in the end winning over 70,000 converts. It is in the spirit of these and countless other saints that Deacon Klump embraces the following motto which he hopes will continually motivate his priesthood: “I will spare myself nothing so long as the Word of God can be spread and that his people receive it.”
As the final months wind down before his ordination, Deacon Klump expressed his gratitude toward families in the Anchorage Archdiocese, especially noting the love and sacrifice that husbands and wives have for each other.
“It has never ceased to be an object of great support and amazement for me to see,” he said. “Nothing is quite so boosting for my own vocation as witnessing marriages and being with families.”