Seminarian hopes to help others hear God’s call


By Celine Klosterman

Since he was young, Jacob Greiner felt God might be calling him to the priesthood.

But at first, the member of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota believed his future lay in the medical profession and married life.

The more he learned about Catholicism, however, the clearer his calling became. Next month, Greiner, 29, will begin his third year as a seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport. And he hopes to help other Catholics more deeply experience Christ’s call, which he came to discern over several years.


Growing up on a farm, Greiner hoped to someday emulate the “tremendous model” of marriage he saw in his parents, Kevin and Kathleen. After graduating from Keota High School in 2000, he enrolled at Central College in Pella as a pre-med student. While there he joined a Catholic student group that sparked a desire to learn even more about his faith.

But feeling limited in his spiritual growth at Central, he transferred to the University of Notre Dame in 2003, and entered the undergraduate seminary with the Congregation of Holy Cross to discern his calling. The Notre Dame, Ind.,-based community’s focus on education appealed to him.

Greiner graduated from Notre Dame in 2005 with a degree in philosophy and political science. But as he continued with the Congregation of the Holy Cross, he longed to return to Iowa, and realized life in a religious community didn’t suit his personality. So in fall 2007, he left the congregation and moved to North Liberty with plans to teach for a few years before returning to studies for the priesthood.

He enrolled in an online master of education program at Buena Vista University in Ottumwa, and later began substitute teaching in Iowa City schools. But his calling to the priesthood grew stronger, so in spring 2009, he entered St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., as a seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport.

Greiner’s passion for teaching remains. “My personal call to the priesthood became clearer the more that I learned about the Catholic faith, and I hope to bring the same truths to others so they may come to experience Christ’s call more deeply,” he said.

His own education expanded in July as he spent several weeks learning about Hispanic ministry, the Spanish language and the daily operation of parish life at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine and St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction. During his internship, he served as master of ceremonies, acolyte or lector during both English and Spanish Masses, joined in social events and a Spanish Bible study, and visited parishioners in nursing facilities and at home.

Father Joseph Sia, parochial vicar for the Columbus Junction and Muscatine parishes, said he saw in Greiner “a genuine love for God and his Church.” The seminarian is friendly and intelligent, and “has a strong desire to find answers to his questions. He is mature enough to accept that sometimes the answers are not easily available or are different from expected.”

Jennifer Greiner, the seminarian’s sister, said she’s always thought he’d make a good priest. “He’s so good at building relationships, especially with young people. When someone needs help, he’s always the first to offer. He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.”

A 33-year-old resident of Brandon, S.D., Jennifer said her parents raised her, Jake and their younger brother, Justin, to embrace responsibility and service. Jake epitomizes those qualities, she said.

“It’s truly an honor to have him join religious life.”

Holy Trinity Parish, his home parish, is already looking forward to Greiner celebrating his first Mass there, said Father Charles Fladung, pastor. “He truly has a love for liturgy.” When the seminarian served as master of ceremonies during holiday Masses in Keota and Sigourney, “the parishioners noticed everything ran so smoothly. He’s told me, ‘Don’t worry; I’ve got your back.’ He’s a true team player.”

Greiner said he most looks forward to celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He knows there will be challenges in the priesthood, but is confident Christ will provide if the seminarian remains faithful in his ministry.

“The people of the Diocese of Davenport have been incredibly supportive of me,” he said. “I thank God every day for the spiritual and material support that I have received while being a seminarian for the diocese.”

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