The men pictured below are currently preparing for priestly ministry in the Diocese of Gaylord. Diocesan priests commit their lives to serving the people of a specific diocese and generally work in parishes, schools, or other ministries as assigned by the bishop of the diocese.
Preparation for the priesthood typically requires eight years of education beyond high school, usually including a college degree followed by four or more years of theology study at a seminary.
We encourage you to pray regularly for these men and that others will also discern their call to the priesthood.
Matthew Cowan is from Petoskey, Michigan. His home parish is Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River. He is the youngest in his family, growing up with one brother and one sister. Matt attended St Francis Xavier Elementary School in Petoskey, then went to the public school for his high school years. He graduated in 2003. He began his college career at Michigan State University majoring in History and English, received his BA in History and English. Matt was a Boy Scout while growing up, achieving the position of Eagle Scout.
In college he was very active being a Tower Guard, and as a member of the History Fraternity, Honors Fraternity, and Spanish club. He is quite fluent in Spanish and had some experience teaching while in college. He would like to study Spanish more and perhaps teach more in the future. Matt also competes in triathlons.
Matt is doing his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was ordained as a Transitional Deacon in October of 2013 at the Vatican. His priestly ordination is planned for June, 2014.
Tyler Bischoff is from East Tawas, Michigan. His home parish is Holy Family Parish. He was born and raised in East Tawas as the oldest child with two younger sisters. He remembers wanting to be a priest as early as elementary school. He went to Catholic schools beginning in the 3rd grade. Tyler graduated 4th in his class from high school in 2007. While in high school, he also began running track and cross country, setting some new records for his school.
Upon graduation he enrolled in Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. He loves being in college, meeting new people, and studying as well as competing with the cross country and track teams. He feels his love of teamwork helped him transition into college life.
Tyler is continuing his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He will be ordained as a transitional deacon in October 2014.
Chris Jarvis grew up in Ludington, the youngest of four siblings. After his graduation from high school, Chris and his parents moved to Traverse City. Chris completed a business degree from Spring Arbor University and was in business with his brother building custom homes.
After some discernment, Chris applied and was accepted to the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. He has also studied at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Chris finally discerned that the Diocesan priesthood was what he had been searching for. His home parish is Holy Rosary Parish in Cedar. He will begin his second year of Theological Studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in the fall of 2013.
Benjamin (Ben) Rexroat is the eldest child of Douglas and Jozell (Korson) Rexroat. Born in Traverse City, Ben lived in Lake Ann for the first 8 years of his life, attending Traverse City St. Francis School and Immaculate Conception Parish, where he made his First Communion and Reconciliation.
The summer before third grade, Ben and his family - which now included four siblings, moved to a home in a 65-acre cherry orchard in Lake Leelanau. That following school year Ben transferred to St. Mary of Lake Leelanau, the same school attended by three of his four Grandparents, both parents and his siblings. Ben was surrounded by family and thus had a ready-made ‘circle of friends’ that included many cousins.
All Ben’s hard work paid off with scholarship offers, and he accepted a full-ride to the University of Detroit Mercy, where he studied Electrical Engineering. To say waking up in Detroit was a much different experience than waking up in Lake Leelanau is a bit of an understatement. Ben likes to say, “I went from going to bed to the sounds of crickets and waking up to birds chirping to going to sleep to the sounds of gunshots and waking up to police sirens.” Ben finished his studies and received his degree in four years.
Through all of these activities, Ben’s faith played a role in his choices. The retreats and homilies and general activities of ministry in both his college and younger years provided him with a real sense of community. Knowing his Mass attendance and campus ministry while away at Mercy was freely chosen and not forced strengthened his Catholic identity; he began to own his faith.
Eventually Ben began to seriously consider the priesthood. The more he prayed, the more God answered. Random hints as to his vocation seem to pop up from the universe — a casual friend mentioned he had the traveling chalice for Vocations and that he was praying for the seminarians and for Ben; his godmother and pastor of his church asked if he had thought about the priesthood. It was at the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Bernard Hebda when things really fell into place. Rexroat began the steps leading to his priestly vocation in earnest. He is currently studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Nicholas Cooper grew up on a small fruit farm in Williamsburg, MI and is the second of three sons of James and Mary Cooper. For most of Nicholas’ life he has been an active member of Sacred Heart in Elk Rapids where he received the sacraments of First Confession, First Eucharist and Confirmation. While in high school he attended World Youth Day 2000 in Rome, Italy and 2002 in Toronto, Ontario where he saw in absolute awe, Blessed Pope John Paul II. After both moments, several of the youth group leaders motioned to Nicholas the he should consider a vocation to the priesthood but he ignored them.
In the fall of 2003 Nicholas began his academic career at Northwestern Michigan College studying general music before transferring to Aquinas College in Grand Rapids where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2008 majoring in vocal performance. During his tenure at Aquinas he learned about the four Dominican charisms: prayer, study, service and community to which he owes to leading to his vocation to study for the priesthood. Nicholas continued his education by landing a full ride scholarship at the University of Notre Dame du Lac where he earned in 2010 a Master of Sacred Music with a concentration in theology, choral and vocal music. It was during this time of study and the death of his mentor that propelled his decision to pray about the priesthood.
After seven years of academic life Nicholas was thrilled to land the position of Director of Sacred Music and Organist at his home parish, Sacred Heart in Elk Rapids. Where he directed the Schola and founded the Children’s Liturgical Choir. It was while working for Fr. Robert J. Zuchowski and seeing him preside, as well as, cantoring for the weekly Holy Hour that Nicholas began to talk about the priesthood to friends and made the grand step to apply to the diocese. Nicholas is now studying at the Pontifical College Joesphinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Brad grew up in Georgia. He is the second oldest of four siblings, having two sisters and one brother. Brad is the only one who has moved away from Georgia. He remains in close contact to his siblings. Their mother passed away of Lou Gehrig's disease in 2004. He says family has always been extremely important to him and has a profound impact on his life.
Brad attended public schools his entire educational career. His parents always sent him and his siblings to Sunday School Classes. Brad attended the University of Georgia and obtained a degree in Journalism majoring in Telecommunications. His greatest difficulties came from mathematics. In working towards his degree, he only had to take one math class. He says, in all seriousness, it was that class that really caused a profound increase in his prayer life. Brad has had a number of jobs and has held teaching jobs in New Mexico and in Japan.
He has thought about being a priest since the second grade. As he got older it was always in the back of his mind. "Now I am as certain as I've ever been of anything that this is what I was made to do and to be. I firmly believe that as a priest I will be the man God willed me to be."
Brad is attending the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
George BoucheyGeorge Bouchey grew up around the Traverse City Area and is a member of St. Patrick’s Parish. He is the youngest of four boys and enjoyed a very close relationship with both of his parents, who are now deceased. George attended the University of Michigan and has worked as an electrician. George says that he has been discerning the priesthood off and on for about 13 years. He enjoys learning about St. John Vianney and credits the saint as being a big influence in his life. While he says that his journey has been quite different than that of other seminarians, George is confident in the path on which the Lord is leading him. He is excited to be at this point in his discernment process and he believes that the biggest challenge will be having to wait before he can begin his priestly and pastoral duties. George is now studying at Sacret Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI.
Sean Farkas was born in Traverse City. His home parish is Immaculate Conception in Traverse City. He is the youngest of 6 siblings, having one sister and four brothers. He went to St Mary School in Lake Leelanau until tenth grade. He transferred to Suttons Bay Public schools to study computers and graphics. He spent four years working at a local television station. Sean loved filming and graphics and considered a carreer in television until he had a change of heart.
During those years, some of the friends he spent time with were saying they "used to be Catholic". He realized that they were missing the "big picture" and that he needed to step up and understand more the teachings that he was brought up on. He began to attend classes and found a spiritual director. He began talking and listening to him. During that time he visited the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in Boston, he stayed with them for over a year. While he was there, everyone told him he that he should be a diocesan priest.
He is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Christopher Nowak is the second of six children born to Paul and Linda Nowak. The Nowak family lived in New Jersey until Chris was in the eighth grade, when his father accepted a position with the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Bloomingdale, Ohio. Chris attended high school in nearby Steubenville and often served at Mass and with his teammates from his high school’s soccer team. He later became involved in the Steubenville LifeTeen program, a faith community for Catholic Teens, and served on the music ministry team.
Chris’ favorite academic subject is Math and he originally planned to major in it when he entered the Franciscan University in 2001. At the end of his first college semester, Chris’ father passed away, an event which led Chris to more deeply explore and discern how God was calling him. Chris split the next few years between his family’s home and a Cistercian Monastery in New Jersey, with his friends in Ohio, and eventually joining his older brother, Paul, in Michigan. Chris’ relationship with his close friend and fellow seminarian Ben Rexroat helped connect him with the Diocese of Gaylord. Chris is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Rob Pahlkotter, the only child of Cynthia, was born in Alpena and is a graduate of Alpena High School. With a primary interest in politics, Rob began his collegiate studies at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. Following his freshman year at CUA and through prayer, Rob discerned that God might be calling him to the priesthood. He entered formation for the Diocese of Kalamazoo, where he and his mother had previously lived.
Rob enrolled in Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and completed the Liberal Arts program prior to beginning his theological studies at the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and then at Mount Saint Mary’s of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio.
His passion for the law led him to explore whether his path was to serve those around him as a lawyer and so Rob enrolled at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. It was during this time that Rob realized his love for the law grew from “God’s justice and mercy… And it is the beauty of the order of His creation that I love, not the interworking of codes of laws,” Rob said. “I love that all of this comes together in the divine economy of salvation and its summit, the Eucharist.”
Rob returned to his home diocese in Gaylord, graduated from Cooley Law School and has been serving St. Joseph’s Parish in Mapleton as a catechist, acolyte, and lector. He is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH.