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Father Wellmann: 'Young people are the future'

By JOE CENTERS • Mar 10, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Take away his collar and the Rev. Andrew Wellmann could be mistaken for a high school senior walking the halls at St. Paul High School.

That’s why Wellmann interacts so well with the students as chaplain of the school. 

“I visit all of the classrooms,” Wellmann said in a recent interview. “Today I had sophomores and seniors and tomorrow we have the first-grade retreat in the afternoon. That will be nice.”

Wellmann, 28, is a 2009 graduate of Delphos St. John High School.

The school is rich in football history and has crossed paths with St. Paul in the state football finals over the years.

The Blue Jays beat the Flyers in the 1997 and 1999 state title games, while St. Paul returned the favor in 2009.

But Wellmann was gone by then spending his freshman year at Ohio Northern University.

While in high school and a drummer in the band, St. John won state football titles when Wellmann was a freshman and a senior.

Wellmann still hears it from the St. Paul faithful, but he said there is no place he’d rather be than at St. Paul.

“This is my first assignment,” he said. “I graduated from the seminary in May (Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati) and came here. There was one month to get myself moved and settled and in July I started.

“I was welcomed and that makes a difference. That has meant a lot to me from the beginning and that makes a difference.”

Is the priesthood everything he expected it to be?

“And more,” Wellmann said. “It’s just amazing. It’s remarkable what all can unfold in one day. When I wake up in the morning I know what is on the calendar but there are so many things going on. I like the variety and it is amazing to be with so many people in so many different areas of their lives ... when they are born, when they die.”

Wellmann fits right in with the students.

“Young people are the future, but as Pope Francis says they are the now of the church,” he said. “I enjoy the opportunity to teach in the classroom and to be at their sporting events. I want to help them be closer to Christ. I enjoy that a lot. I take every chance I can get to do that. I love our students. They are very respectful and receptive. They want to succeed.

Wellmann recently participated in a Mass in the convocation center celebrating Catholic education with Bishop Daniel Thomas. On hand were students from St. Paul High School, Norwalk Catholic School, Monroeville St. Joseph, Vermilion St. Mary, Bellevue ICS and Willard St. Francis Xavier.

“Every time the bishop visits it is special. He is a great man. A great model,” Wellmann said. “The day went very well. We had a great Mass in the convocation center and a wonderful Q&A session with the seniors and juniors. Good relationships were built. After that we had a lunch and talked about how the day went.”

It may be a great life, but it certainly isn’t easy, Wellmann said.

“Christianity without the cross is empty. It is not authentic. We have to appreciate the cross. There is going to be suffereing and it will be tough. (But) God never leaves us alone. He is always there to provide strength and courage. With Christ we are never alone so we do not need to be afraid. Anything is possible with the help of his grace.”

Wellmann is not sure how long he will be at St. Paul, so he said he has to live every day like it could be his last in Norwalk. 

“Anything can happen at any time,” he said. “That is the fact of priestly ministry. I’m incrediby happy to be here. When I found out I was coming her I was overcome with joy. I am grateful for every day.

“I have learned so much in the time I have been here. It is a delightful place and I am happy to share it.

“We just have to focus on what is at hand. ... To build God’s kingdom.”

 

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