In May, Lawrence Schaeper was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Covington, Ky. At age 44, his journey to the priesthood was longer and more circuitous than most, starting with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1988 and winding through 11 years working at Fifth Third Bank. But as he looks back on what best prepared him for the priesthood, he says, it wasn’t so much life in the corporate world, but a shorter stint at, of all places, a Bob Evans restaurant.
“A large part of diocesan priesthood is connecting with people,” he says, “and when I worked at Bob Evans, it was a lot of customer service.”
Even getting to Bob Evans was a roundabout journey for Schaeper. After starting at Fifth Third upon graduation, he left in 1998 to enter the seminary. Five years later, he took a leave of absence and moved to Greenville, S.C., with his brother. There he began working at Bob Evans. When his brother took a job at Thomas More College in Northern Kentucky in 2005, Schaeper followed. The chaplain at Thomas More encouraged him to continue pursing his vocation. He did.
A month after ordination, Schaeper started his current job as parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Fort Thomas, Ky. “It’s a great vocation to minister to the people of God and bring them closer to Christ,” Schaeper says.
And it’s a long way from seating hungry patrons, but not so different after all.