Father Nicholaus “Nic” Jurgensmeyer attended Newman University for two years — years, he said, which were life-changing.
He said the initial draw to Newman was sport and religion.
“Newman had the two big things I was looking for; a men’s soccer team and they are a Catholic university.”
What Jurgensmeyer didn’t expect was the connection he would make with the campus ministry team and the university chaplain at the time, Father Joe Tatro.
“Having Father Tatro there as the chaplain, he had a big part in my choice to become a priest,” explained Jurgensmeyer. “He got to know me through soccer and somehow figured out that I was Catholic. He constantly pushed me to be a better me. One day he asked me to be a university student chaplain, and that is when I felt called to go into the priesthood.”
Jurgensmeyer’s first seminary experience was with the Diocese of Tulsa. He studied there for a year but said he was feeling like Wichita was where he needed to be.
“I wasn’t really sure or positive where I was supposed to be, but I felt a call to go back to Wichita. So at the end of that year, I talked to the vocations director in Tulsa and he was very helpful. He made the switch to Wichita an easy one.”
He spent another year in the seminary, this time in Wichita, but still had some thinking and praying to do, he said.
“I took the sacredness of studying for the priesthood very seriously, so I had to make sure it was for me. I didn’t want to disrespect that in any way if I wasn’t going in for the right reasons. So I took a couple years off to think about it and pray about it.”
For the next two years, Jurgensmeyer stayed close to his hometown of Miami, Oklahoma, by attending Pittsburg State University.
He said, “I stayed pretty active (at my home church). Pitt State is right next to my hometown, about 40 miles north, so it was close to me and I was able to stay connected with my church. After doing more things with the youth group there, I felt the call to go back to the seminary.”
Jurgensmeyer came back to seminary at the Diocese of Wichita and eventually became a deacon, and then finally was ordained a priest May 26, 2018.
“The pull to Wichita was because (in Tulsa) we were always around Wichita guys, and just seeing the fraternity, the brotherhood, the friendship they all shared, was something I knew I needed as a priest. I knew I needed that to continue and even just to get through the seminary.”
His first and current assignment as a priest is as associate pastor and parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wichita. June 19 was his official first day, and three days after that, he accompanied 41 students from the parish youth group on a trip to a popular youth conference in Denver.
“I didn’t have a lot of time to figure things out, but that was fun for me; meeting the group of kids and a good group of leaders and chaperones that help out with the youth group. And that is a large part of my role here, to take care of the youth group and some of the PSR classes.”
Jurgensmeyer said his duties at St. Catherine will also include providing advice or input for teachers, greeting students as they arrive, regularly visiting classrooms and being available for staff and faculty.
“I’m here to help whenever and wherever I can. I’m still, right now, trying to figure out what’s working, what’s not and what could use a little improving. But I’m not here to reinvent the wheel.
“When it comes down to it — it’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit. It’s the Lord working. He’s doing all the work, I’m just his broken, goofy-looking vessel.”