Two will be ordained deacons on May 25 Print
Around the Diocese
Thursday, May. 17, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
brunner oparaji
Stephen Brunner Lawrence Oparaji

MONONA -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino will ordain two seminarians of the Diocese of Madison as transitional deacons on Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Monona.

Following is information on Stephen Brunner and Lawrence Oparaji:

Stephen Brunner

The son of Tom Brunner of Yardley, Pa., and the late Denise Brunner, he attended Charles Boehm Middle School in Yardley, Pa.; Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pa.; Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pa., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in physics; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he obtained a doctorate in medical physics.

Before entering the seminary, he became involved with the Church through the Young Adult (20s and 30s) group at Cathedral Parish in Madison. He participated in a number of activities, including facilitating at RCIA, Spirit and Truth, Young Adult brunch, Young Adult Sports League, Quo Vadis Club, and Theology on Tap. He served Mass and was a lector for the Cathedral Parish. He also was a chaperone for the Conquest Boys Club, a Catholic father-son club in the Madison area.

He explains why he decided to enter the seminary. “I experienced a call to the priesthood as I was reverting back to the Catholic faith during the spring of 2011. I basically went home to Yardley, Pa., in January of 2011 in order to be a good brother, as my middle brother, Greg, invited me to attend the Baptism of his first daughter, Miriam.

“I left the Baptism with one thing on my mind. It was a question. It was: ‘Steve, are you living up to your baptismal promises?’ From that point on, I kept growing in my faith: I read the Bible at night, attended Mass daily, and went to Confession regularly. By the time Easter of 2011 came around, I was convinced that God was calling me to the priesthood. All of this occurred as I was working on my degree in medical physics at UW-Madison.”

The most influential people in his decision to enter the seminary were Bishop Robert Morlino, Msgr. James Bartylla, and Msgr. Kevin Holmes. “In addition to these positive witnesses, I had specific events happen to me during Holy Week of 2011 that led me to pursue the priesthood. These events, along with a number of other events, confirmed me in my faith that God was calling me to change my life trajectory from pursuing a career in medical physics to pursuing a vocation to the priesthood.”

He spent his pre-theology years at Sacred Hearts Major Seminary in Detroit and his theology years at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

“Ordination to the transitional diaconate marks an official moment in my life in which I have decided freely and wholeheartedly to consecrate my life to God and to the Diocese of Madison. I am extremely thankful that I have been able to build a relationship with Bishop Morlino, the priests of the diocese, and the people of the diocese throughout these past five years of formation. It is a privilege to serve the diocese.

“Lawrence and I have chosen Matthew 20:25-28 as our Gospel reading for the ordination, which says, ‘Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ We are looking forward to serving the diocese in Word and in Sacrament.”

Lawrence Oparaji

Lawrence Oparaji is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Ndukauba and Calista Ijeoma Oparaji of St. Andrew Parish in Orozo, Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison.

He attended Martins Nursery and Primary School Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria; Model Learning Center, Jikwoyi, Abuja, Nigeria; Rahinna Model College, Jikwoyi, Abuja, Nigeria; Federal Government College, Keffi, Nassarawa, Nigeria; Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Samonda, Ibadan, Nigeria (B.A. Philosophy and Religious Studies)

“I grew up in a staunch Catholic family, so I was first drawn to the Church by the exemplary faith of my parents, which led me to being involved in various associations within the church like the altar servers, the Rosary Crusade, and the Legion of Mary. From these associations my own faith grew deeper and my relationship with our Lord also grew stronger and closer.

“My priests growing up and my aunt who is a nun who lived out their faith and vocation with so much peace and love was simply inspiring.”

He attends St. Paul School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn.

As he prepares for ordination, he said, “I feel excited and blessed to be able to serve God and his people. I look forward to being able to put all these years of formation to work at the service of God’s people.

“A big thank you to all who have supported, prayed, and continue to pray for me, especially my home parish family of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. I also ask you not to stop your prayers, because I need them more now as I take this huge step.