Like many college students in the Diocese, Keaton and Kolbe Eidle had their on-campus studies interrupted by the Coronavirus and now find themselves finishing their semester at home.
Unlike many college students in the Diocese, Keaton and Kolbe are seminarians who are studying to be priests at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia.
In their Sinking Spring home, with their arrival and the arrival of a sister also in college, 10 of the family’s 14 children are now living and studying under the same roof. It’s a busy place.
“We were home-schooled, so we’re used to being able to get our coursework done at home,” says Kolbe, 18, who is in his first of four college years at the seminary.
Keaton, 22, is in his fourth year of college and will begin the first of his four theology years this fall. “We work together to hold each other accountable here at home,” he says, “to keep to our same schedules, including morning holy hours and saying the Liturgy of the Hours every day.”
The entire family also takes time to watch Bishop Alfred Schlert’s daily livestream Mass, to gather at mid-afternoon for prayer, and to say a family Rosary at night.
Both Kolbe and Keaton say they have wanted to be priests for as long as they can remember, crediting their homeschooling environment and the strong example of devoted prayerfulness set by their parents, Rob and Andrea Eidle.
Both say the solid religious education their mother provided through years of their education, as well as their family ritual of 8 a.m. Mass every day, were huge influences in their hearing the call to be priests.
Keaton says the pandemic, with its forced isolation, has given him a new appreciation of the simple pleasure of being with people, and a new understanding of the power of personal prayer. He spends many hours in silent prayer at his parish church, St. Ignatius Loyola in Sinking Spring.
Kolbe, who has always looked to his brother for inspiration and mentorship, said having Keaton at the seminary when he arrived helped ease the transition.
Interestingly, the brothers are seeing more of each other now than when they are at the seminary. With completely different class schedules, they only cross paths for their occasional joint workouts plus some meals, group worship, and sports. They also are together on “Allentown night,” in which all 11 seminarians from our Diocese who are at St. Charles gather on Mondays for a meal and prayer.
Kolbe has some advice for parents who may have children interested in a religious vocation. “Pray for them,” he says. “Talk with them, and support them any way you can.
“Our parents were extremely supportive of us as we heard God’s call,” he says. “They were always ready to do absolutely anything to help us in our discernment.”
Anyone who is interested in a vocation to the priestly or religious life is encouraged to contact Father Mark Searles, Director of the Office for Vocations Promotion, at firstname.lastname@example.org.