Surrounded By Good Examples

John Striefel was led to his vocation by the witness of friends and family

It’s always helpful when you’ve got solid examples in your life of people living out their vocations with love and joy. It’s helpful to discern marriage when surrounded by examples of faithful married couples living their call to holiness, and it’s easier to discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life when surrounded by priests and religious joyfully living out their vocations, too.

StreifelJohn Streifel—who is currently serving his pastoral year at St. Ignatius Parish in Hickory, MD—was surrounded with the best of all worlds.

His parents, friends, employers after college, and his priests throughout his life all played a part in his discernment.

“I experienced God through all of them,” he said.

Growing up, Streifel was raised in a strong Catholic household. Around the parish, he volunteered as a lector and altar server. He even saw a little of himself in the pastor of his parish, Fr. Steve Hook.

“He had sort of a similar disposition to myself,” Streifel said. “He was quiet and a very humble man. Seeing how he lived his priesthood was inspirational to me. At the time, I wasn’t really putting myself into his shoes, but he was just a very, very good priest and a good man. His example was influential and I’m grateful for his witness.”

In college at Mount St. Mary’s, he encountered students living their faith, and many others who were straying from it.

Striefel Basketball

John Striefel (kneeling, third from right), poses with Baltimore Vocation Director Fr. Jim Sorra (kneeling, third from left) and the “Men In Black” basketball team.

“I always felt drawn to the examples of the people who were about better things, about God,” he said. “God constantly continued to lead me down that path of figuring out the best way to use the gifts that I’ve been given.”

Streifel experienced a great deal of spiritual growth after college too. He worked hard to help out his mother financially after the death of his father. His employers, Ron and Christy Cheeks, provided another example of faithful Catholics living their vocations.

“Being around their witness as a strong, loving Catholic family was very beneficial for me. God had me in the right place,” Streifel said. “After the death of my father, I had to help my mother spiritually and financially. I was able to gain some maturity and experience in the workforce, and I improved, all around, as a person.”

His thoughts returned to the priesthood, and things came full circle when he was talking about it with his childhood priest Fr. Hook.

“I remember at the time, Fr. Steve said, ‘You need to stop hemming and hawing and you’ve got to make a move.’ In 2012, I did,” Streifel said, reflecting on all the encounters that impacted his discernment. He added, “Trust the people who know you best—family, friends, your parish community—as you discern, because they have your best interest at heart and they’re the ones will be there for you and support you.”