January 11, 2002

Army and teaching lead seminarian to God

By Brandon A. Evans

As Saint Meinrad seminarian Scott Nobbe of Fortville continues his spiritual journey, it is the more intangible qualities of being a priest that concern him.

High on his list is being a priest that is always there for people—always available to help others.

“I am not so concerned about being a good administrator,” Nobbe said, citing his degree in sports management, four years in the U.S. Army and six months as a teacher of conversational English in South Korea.

Just as the qualities he seeks are intangible, his calling was also intangible.

“It’s kind of one of those backburner type of deals,” Nobbe said. “It’s something that’s going to poke and prod little by little at you.”

He said it was “not the overwhelming impact of a certain event or a certain occasion. It’s going to be over a few years or maybe a decade.”

Nobbe said that no matter what work he did, it was not his vocation and he continued to be open to the priesthood.

It was that openness, combined with the guidance of several priests—two of which saw the potential for priesthood within him—that led him to Saint Meinrad.

He grew up as a cradle Catholic, the son of a father who, at a very early age, had considered the priesthood.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in sports management from Valparaiso University in northern Indiana, Nobbe continued to discern his vocation.

“Once I graduated and was not settled on a definite career path, I decided on the military as a way of further discernment,” he said. “Once in the Army, I began teaching courses, as I was leaning toward that career—all the while never totally ruling out [being a] military chaplain.

“Afterward, I relinquished my status as active duty, still unsatisfied with the lack of traveling I received while in the Army,” he said. “I chose to teach [conversational] English while in South Korea. That is where I learned not only that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and the environment it incorporated, but also learned that my faith and my family would always come first. I rediscovered a passion for reading the Bible and reconnected with my former parish priest via e-mail, now deceased, Father Joseph Kos.”

Nobbe is a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Fortville. Father Kos had connected him with Father Joseph Moriarty, who introduced him to Father John Thomas, Saint Meinrad’s enrollment director.

“From there, I put my life in the hands of God, who would eventually guide me to Saint Meinrad,” he said. “I definitely know it’s the right place for me.”

This summer, he will travel to Antiqua, Guatemala, for a Spanish immersion experience required by Saint Meinrad.

His devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary—which began while praying during a Monday night rosary group with his mother at their parish—also helped him find his vocation.

“That is when I picked up on my mom’s sincere devotion to Mary and also what peace she felt when praying with other parishioners while reciting the rosary,” he said.

Citing an article on discerning vocations, Nobbe said that to focus on which vocation will make you happiest is to place the supreme value on happiness, which can lead to never being happy.

“Happiness is kind of like sleep,” he said. “The more you focus on trying to fall asleep at night, the less likely it is that you’ll fall asleep. When you focus on other things … then sleep just comes automatically.”

Nobbe said he is a person that tries to deal with individual people as God brings them to him.

He said this kind of individual care, which he likens to the care that Mother Teresa gave people, is what is truly the thing to focus on—letting God guide him to happiness.

Nobbe also has five nieces, and said he hopes to influence them as they grow older.

“There’s one thing I definitely want to express to my nieces as they grow older,” he said, “to just keep that openness. God can deal with a ‘maybe,’ but he can’t really deal you much with a ‘no.’ I also believe it is worth noting that, no matter how often you hear the similar discernment stories of men and women contemplating a calling toward priesthood or religious life, you will always find something utterly unique in their tale of truth.”

He urges people to find out how God is calling them, and them alone.

As he continues his seminary studies, Nobbe said that there are still struggles that he has to overcome as he journeys toward his vocation.

It is a journey that will begin again in June of 2005 when, God willing, he will be ordained a priest forever. †


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