New priests for Archdiocese of Washington
Faith planted in Germany grew to a priestly vocation for Archdiocese of Washington
Jun 4, 2019
In his native Germany, Deacon Stefan Megyery found his faith. And while doing academic research in the United States, he found his priestly vocation.
On June 15, he will be among the 10 new priests ordained for the Archdiocese of Washington by Archbishop Wilton Gregory at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The future priest’s guests at the Mass will include his parents, Csaba and Helga Megyery, who will be flying in from Germany, and also parishioners whom he served as a seminarian, including about 40-50 people riding in a bus from the Southern Maryland parishes of Sacred Heart in Bushwood and Holy Angels in Avenue, where he served last summer.
Reflecting on his life and vocation in a recent interview, Deacon Megyery, who is 38, said “the Lord provided a lot of blessings, bestowed a lot of blessings on me along the way.”
After his ordination, he will return to Germany in late June and celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at Herz-Jesu (“Heart of Jesus”) Parish in Berlin, where he grew up and received his first Holy Communion. He attended Catholic kindergarten and elementary school and first thought about being a priest when he was 6 years old.
His father Csaba Megyery is a Catholic who fled the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, resettling in Germany, where he met and married his wife Helga, who is Lutheran and from the Bavarian region of Germany. The patron saint of their youngest son Stefan, the future priest, is St. Stephen of Hungary. The couple raised their two sons and a daughter in the Catholic faith, taking them to Sunday Mass and praying with them in the evening.
“They made sure we grew up in the faith,” said Deacon Megyery, whose father worked as a dentist, and whose mother worked in her husband’s dental office.
Deacon Megyery was an altar server at his home parish, and when he came to the United States for his doctoral work in post-World War II alliances that were developed during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, he began attending Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., while he was researching that topic at the National Archives.
“The seed (for my priesthood) started to grow at the cathedral,” said Deacon Megyery, who was inspired by the liturgies and by the joy of the priests there. “…You could see the fire burning in them, fire for Christ… being a priest was not a job for them, it was a vocation.”
Later while researching at the Eisenhower presidential library in Kansas, he attended a Cursillo retreat and was inspired to seek the priesthood.
In 2013, he entered the Blessed, now Saint, John Paul II Seminary, as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington. “I had a great time… I never prayed so much!” he said, praising the priests there for their zeal for the priesthood, which he said they showed in the reverent way they celebrated Mass, in their preaching, and in their pastoral approach to their ministry. “I started to learn what it means to be a priest. I saw that in them.”
Deacon Megyery said he also appreciated the community life there. “I tried my first Wiffle ball,” he said, noting that fellow seminarians also took him to his first baseball game at Nationals Park and joined him for hiking excursions on the Billy Goat Trail along the C&O Canal.
In 2014, he had his first summer assignment as a seminarian at St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda.
“From the very first day, it was very welcoming and open,” he said, noting how on his first day there, a women’s prayer group baked a cake for him with the word “Welcome” on it. “They really welcomed me and made me feel at home.”
At St. Bartholomew that summer, he helped at Masses, and visited the elderly at area nursing homes and at the Bartholomew House assisted living facility across from the church.
And in the weeks before his ordination, that Maryland parish again offered him a place to stay. “I consider this parish as my home parish in Washington,” he said.
St. Bartholomew’s pastor, Father Mark Knestout, will vest him at his ordination and will preach at his first Mass, which will be held at the parish on June 16 at noon.
Deacon Megyery said he was inspired by the faith of the people at all the parishes where he served as a seminarian. This past summer, he served at Sacred Heart in Bushwood and at Holy Angels in Avenue. Those Southern Maryland Catholics, he said, are very devout and also very down to earth. “I had a great time” there, the deacon said.
For Sacred Heart’s parish dinner, he helped make crab cakes and peeled potatoes and assisted in the clean-up, joining parishioners of all ages who pitched in to support their church in a week-long effort preparing for and then hosting the dinner.
“They put their faith in practice… It’s a wonderful example that the Church is a family,” he said.
During the past two school years while he lived at Theological College and completed his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and master of divinity degree from The Catholic University of America, he served at St. Joseph Parish in Capitol Hill, assisting the pastor, Father William Gurnee, who had earlier worked at Saint John Paul II Seminary.
“It’s a very young, vibrant parish,” said Deacon Megyery, noting that a lot of families and young adults now attend the Capitol Hill church.
He assisted in that parish’s RCIA program for people preparing to become Catholic, and he also got to perform eight or nine baptisms. “It’s such a joy to bring somebody new into the church. It’s a family event – you can receive somebody into the body of Christ,” he said.
During this past year as the clergy abuse crisis roiled the Catholic Church, Deacon Megyery said that trusting in the Lord gave him strength.
“You know the Church consists of human beings who are sinners, but you trust the Lord will prevail,” he said. “The body of Christ – that’s where holiness is. You have to focus on that and grow closer to Christ. If we all do that, that will be the solution.”
He added, “You shouldn’t lose the focus, and the focus is Christ. You have to be open to the Holy Spirit, and he will work in us. I think the last year strengthened my vocation rather than weakened it, because we need good and holy priests who are open to be instruments of the Holy Spirit.”
That, he said, is his goal as a priest, as he follows a call that he heard as a boy in Germany and as an adult in the United States. “I just want to be a good and holy priest, a good shepherd,” he said. “The biggest goal is to be a good instrument of Christ in the Church, to be a good and faithful worker in the vineyard of Christ.”
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