PRIESTS ARE COOL! | Fr. Mike Schmitz edition.

This post is part of a monthly series called PRIESTS & NUNS ARE COOL! in which I interview a priest or a nun about his or her vocation — and about how adults who haven’t discerned a vocation yet can discover their own. This edition features Fr. Mike Schmitz, the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth.

father mike

I almost met Fr. Mike Schmitz once. He was a keynote speaker where I was a chaperone: at a Steubenville ATL youth conference.

Our paths crossed but neither my schedule nor his provided the time for us to chat, which, let’s face it, was a bummer. But Fr. Mike and I have connected since, because the Internet.

Fr. Mike — a killer homilist (my words, not his) who aims to be a better man, priest, friend and relative, and to find new ways to share who Jesus Christ is and to help people encounter Him — is gracious to discuss his vocation for this series, and to tell us how an adult who doesn’t know his or hers yet might discover it:

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A). Batman
B). A Lifeguard
C). A cross country ski instructor by day and guitar-playing singer at night in Vail, CO.

When did you decide you would become a priest?

I went to confession when I was 15 and I encountered God in a real, powerful, and personal way. Soon after that moment, I wondered if God would want me to be a priest. Fast forward almost 10 years, a couple of wrestling matches with the Lord, and a close brush with almost getting married and it was clear one day when I was in Adoration that I needed to at least give the seminary a try.

How did you know you were called to be a priest?

I used my brain. (That sounds sarcastic, but I mean it). Sometimes people get “signs,” but most often God lets us use the tools He has already given us, like our minds. With good counsel, a lot of prayer (so I would know the truth about who God really is), and a good amount of reflection, it was just very clear that God had been inviting me to at least take a step in this particular way.

What’s the best part (or best parts) of being a priest for you?

That is like asking “What is the best part of being married to X?” 🙂 The best part is knowing that God has called me to do this, and when I do it, I am saying “yes” to His will.

What should a young adult do who still isn’t sure what his or her vocation is?

Choose to grow in virtue. You will need to be virtuous no matter what your vocation is. Pray every day. Sacrifice for others (God and the people around you) on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be huge, just something. Stay close to the Sacraments. Get more data. This means doing more than “wondering.” It means getting out there and finding more information (visiting a seminary or religious order, or asking the person out). Be more courageous than you have been.

Connect with Fr. Mike: Follow him on Twitter, or ask Fr. Mike a question. Part of this interview was adapted with permission from answers Fr. Mike Schmitz once provided to a youth group’s interview. #LongStory. Click here to read the previous post in this series: NUNS ARE COOL | Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble edition.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great series, Arleen. Well done.

    • Arleen Spenceley

      Thanks so much, Adam! I have been enjoying these interviews, too. So important!

  • Father Mike is coming here in March and I’m really looking forward to his talk!

  • Thanks for the interview, Arleen and Fr. Mike!

    For anyone interested, I’ve made somewhat of a resource page for Fr. Mike on my website. I try to keep it up-to-date with links to his homilies, articles, and videos (plus a few fun bonus pics). Fr. Mike has a ton of wisdom and practical advice on just about everything. You can tap into a ton of it here:

    Thanks again, Arleen, and keep up the great work!

    In Christ,
    Greg Aitchison

  • Pingback: NUNS ARE COOL! | Sr. Miriam James edition. | Arleen Spenceley()

  • Cindy

    Hello! I am currently teaching Altaration to some high schoolers. In it, Fr. Mike states that he was almost married – as does your interview. It’s a kind of silly question, but I’m dedicated to helping my kids find the answers to their questions so here goes! Do you happen to know if Fr. Mike was actually engaged? The kids are set that he basically changed his mind on his wedding day, I said that is not necessarily the case 🙂 Do you have any info for me to pass along to my students? Thanks so much! Great interview!

    • Arleen Spenceley

      I emailed Fr. Mike after you commented, and he just responded:


      I definitely did not change my mind on my wedding day!

      She and I were planning on getting engaged and married the following year, but there was never a ring (which, even though we had talked about…and were pretty committed to…that plan, my little sister says “if there wasn’t a ring, you weren’t engaged!”)”

      • Cindy

        Thank you so much for asking him! How kind of you! I will definitely pass this along to my high schoolers! God bless you and God bless our priests and religious!