Jason Brauninger, 25, a St. Rose native and seminary student, professed his first vows before God, church leaders, friends and family in a special ceremony Aug. 15 held at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau.
Brauninger, who once worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician , said he knew he wanted to become a priest when he was five years old.
“I found out about girls and firefighting and the priestly idea went out the window,” he told the Herald-Guide.
“But God kept tugging at me about my true desires,” he continued.
“ I told my parents that I wanted to become a priest and they were shocked," he said. Claire Brauninger, Jason’s mother recalls getting the news about her son’s career change.
“Jason had gotten involved with the volunteer fire department in the parish at age 13,” she said.
“Once he started taking an interest in fire-fighting I thought he had changed his mind about becoming a priest, something he’s always wanted to since he was little,” she continued.
“Our entire family supports Jason 100 percent with his decision to become a priest.”
Claire said her son has always been compassionate and caring and loves to help others.
"I applied to join the Jesuit Novitiate Of New Orleans Province, Aug. 14, 2005 and two years later I'm grateful that I've taken my first vows.”
Brauninger pledged vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and takes them all equally seriously.
“I’m committed to my calling and the choice I’ve made,” he said.
“My vow of poverty means that I have to live, meagerly, nothing extravagant like, running up credit card bills for example, or buying extravagant things,” he continued.
And although Brauninger took the vow of chastity he said it doesn't mean that he’s never had a personal life.
“I had to be single and celibate one year before I entered the seminary,” he said.
“If I saw a beautiful woman, today , I would thank God for her beauty and stay true to my vow,” he continued.
“I’m obedient to my spiritual leaders, as the vow requires me to do, they instruct me on what to do and I listen to them,” he said.
Janeen Rodrigue, director of youth ministry for St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, in Destrehan, said Brauninger possesses all the qualities that a priest should have.
“I admire Jason and his courage to stand up for what he believes and for not letting others influence him to be someone or something that he is not,” she said.
“Only a person whose spirit is strong and growing can encounter obstacles, wrestle temptation and doubt, and still hold onto his faith.”
The journey to become a priest will be a long one for Brauninger, but he is determined and looks forward to making the transition to this new way of life.
“I will be in school for 11 years,” he said.
Because Brauninger chose to join the Jesuit Noviate, it will be nine years before he is ordained a priest.
“Jesuit priests work throughout the world,” he said.
“When I was trying to decide which seminary to attend, I searched the internet to look for a religious order that matched my personality,” he continued.
“St. Ignatius of Loyola is the inspiration of this religious order and I share his philosophy of traveling around the world to do mission work, I think that’s important."
Brauninger, is a graduate of St. Charles Catholic High, in LaPlace, attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and was an active member of the St. Charles Borromeo Fountain of Youth Ministry, in Destrehan.
|Photo by Shonna Riggs|