Father Mark Wendling is our American region vocations director for men who are discerning vocations to the priesthood or religious life. He currently serves as the Director of SOLT’s House of Studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, MI. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Father Mark can also be reached by phone: 361-767-9567.
Meet Father Mark…
Born April 28, 1973 in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, I was raised in a loving Catholic family with one older sister, two younger sisters, and one younger brother. My childhood was full of happiness.
At the age of 18 I left home for the University of Toronto and stayed at St. Michael’s College in residence. There I studied Biochemistry and Chemistry and graduated with my bachelors. During university years the practice of my faith began to wane. I gave in to the culture of the times for my age group, left aside Sunday mass and confession, and basically followed the crowd. By the end of four years, morally and socially I was well off a proper track, not faithful to my upbringing or my faith. However, if I had been asked if I was a believer and if I practiced my faith, to both I am sure I would have replied, “Of course.”
At the end of university, I applied for a year abroad in Benque Viejo, Belize, Central America to teach high school at Mount Carmel High School (MCHS). The school and local parish were run under the auspices of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). However, my motives for going to the mission school were not philanthropic nor faith based. Basically, I was looking for a unique experience abroad, an adventure to set me apart, to give me something that others didn’t have or hadn’t done – I was improving my own interior personal resume.
The mission accepted me.
What I encountered changed my life.
Three factors catalyzed a life change: a holy missionary priest, Fr. John McHugh, SOLT – a 30-year veteran at the Belize mission (and a WWII veteran too); deep bonds of friendship with impressive faith-filled peers – the other 30 volunteers; and service to the poor and destitute in the students at the “last chance school” as MCHS was then known. These altered my outlook on life. I was filled with a satisfaction and a joy previously unknown to me. It was a taste I wanted to have always.
After two years at the mission I entered novitiate with SOLT, which took place in New Mexico at that time. I grew there deeply in self-knowledge and in interior union with God. Philosophical studies were completed in Corpus Christi, Texas before I was sent to Rome to study at the University of Thomas Aquinas – “the Angelicum” – for 4 years.
At the end of Theological preparation I had the tremendous fortune and blessing to be ordained at St. Peter’s Basilica with 4 of my fellow SOLT brothers by St. Pope John Paul II. I think God had it that way to ensure the ordination would “take”!
Two days later, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 2003, I was assigned back to Benque Viejo, Belize, where I spent 10 of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life.
On precisely the same day ten years later, May 13, 2013, I left Belize for a new assignment in Detroit as Rector of the SOLT House of Studies and Vocation Servant of the SOLT community.
I continue to derive great joy in service to God’s people, and find gratitude as the one consistent response of my heart.
Fr. Mark Wendling, SOLT