February 22, 2024

Father Zach Schaefbauer is our featured priest this month. He was born in Aberdeen and has three younger brothers. He was ordained May 27, 2022, and is serving as parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Parish in Sioux Falls.

How did you get your call to the priesthood?
My desire for the priesthood came from altar serving and diving into the profound treasure of the Mass, as well as witnessing priests who took the liturgy and Catholicism seriously. Exposure to these realities drew me more deeply into the life of the Church, from which came the desire to share this with others.

What did you do before the priesthood?
I entered seminary right after graduating from high school. So, I was a student before I was a priest.

Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you?
I rather appreciate the intellectual tradition of the Church. But, I think the most fascinating aspect of our faith is its liturgical history. Learning about the origins of our Roman Rite liturgical rituals and how they developed throughout the centuries under the influences of theological truths and societal mannerisms. Such knowledge helps us understand what it really means to offer the sacrifice of the Mass in all its ceremonial greatness.

Who was most influential in your life?
My father, BJ Schaefbauer, was (and still is) the biggest influence in my life. He reflects, in my opinion, the true Catholic man: he has a firm and stable heart, is very ordered and virtuous in his work ethic, and recognizes the primary place of God in life. But most importantly, my father is real; he understands that the Catholic faith is not contrary to life, but instead fulfills and elevates all that we do in this world. This made the faith a normal, ordinary and necessary feature of life.

What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
I thoroughly enjoy dispensing the sacraments to the faithful of the diocese, first, by offering the sacrifice of the Mass, and second, by means of the other sacraments. I have also found much enjoyment in catechetical instruction and altar server training.

What’s the most challenging thing?
Having only been a priest for a few months, I would say the most challenging part of ministry has been marriage preparation. Couples entrusting their marital formation to me is somewhat daunting. Of course, I think as time goes on, the whole process of preparation will become much clearer and easier to approach. But for now, that experience is wanting.

Who is your go-to saint? Why?
I have a few favorite saints whom I invoke for various needs in my life. But, St. John Vianney is probably the saint I go to the most.

What do you do in your spare time?
When I do have spare time, I like reading books, especially philosophical, historical or theological books. I also am involved in athletics and physical fitness in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and enjoy appropriate competition.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I practice penmanship and write often.

How can your parishioners and people of the diocese best help you be a great priest?
I would recommend three things. First, to remember me (and all my brother priests) in prayer. Second, to take seriously the Catholic faith you have inherited from previous generations and remain open to her teachings. And third, to remember my humanity; that I have all the delights and sorrows that everyone else in the world experiences, be it the frustration of imperfections, the joy of activities, or the warmth of family life. So, when you see a priest, you see Jesus Christ. But, you also see another human being.

If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
Honestly, being a huge fan of history, I would host a dinner party and invite the following figures: Aristotle, Gregory the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict XIV, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.