Deacon Jared Kleinwaechter


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL 60060

School: Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL 60060


My whole family is from Wisconsin, and I was the first person from my family to be born in Georgia. My parents divorced when I was very young, but I was blessed enough to have them both in my life throughout my childhood. My dad is married now, and I have a step sister. I lived mostly with my mom growing up, but I went to my dad’s house every other weekend. When I was with my mom, we went to St. Brendan Catholic Church in Cumming. When I was with my dad and step mom, we went to North Point, a non-denominational mega-church in Alpharetta. My parents did a great job of instilling in me Christian virtues and a desire to pray on a regular basis. I began going to Mass every weekend once I was confirmed in high school and could drive myself to Mass even on the weekends when I was at my dad’s house. I graduated from Lambert High School where I played football and ran track. I went to Georgia Tech where I studied chemical engineering. It was at Georgia Tech where my faith grew significantly with the help of the Catholic Center community and the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries.

What are your hobbies and interests?

The main thing I like to do in my free time is play all kinds of sports, particularly football, baseball, basketball, soccer, bowling, ultimate frisbee, and racquetball. My favorite sports teams are the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Braves, and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. I was a teaching assistant at Georgia Tech, and I absolutely love teaching others and helping them understand things they want to learn. My favorite type of music is classic rock, and I enjoy playing video games with friends. I like listening to podcasts to pass the time and to learn about all kinds of things while I’m in the car. I also really enjoy watching superhero movies and playing trivia.

What is one of your favorite scriptures?

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Who is your favorite saint and why?

St. Joseph is my Confirmation Saint because I wanted to be a good father like my dad was to me, and St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers. There are no recorded words of St. Joseph in the Scriptures, which shows how he is completely a man of action, and I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. He faithfully lived out the vocation that God called him to even though it wasn’t what he had envisioned for himself originally. I have grown in my love and devotion for St. Joseph while in seminary (and particularly during the Year of St. Joseph), since he is a great model for spiritual fatherhood. He has been a big help in my discernment process, and I ask for his intercession constantly. St. Joseph, pray for us!

In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?

I didn’t start thinking about the priesthood until I was in college when the vocations director at the time (Fr. Tim Hepburn) held a discernment Q&A event at the Georgia Tech Catholic Center. A thought popped into my head. “You’ve never even asked God what He wants you to do. Why don’t you start asking Him about it now?” I started praying about it, attended a couple discernment retreats for Georgia Tech students, and began spiritual direction with the chaplain of the Catholic Center (Fr. Josh Allen). At one point, I concluded from an intellectual standpoint that I wasn’t going to be able to fully discern my vocation without going to seminary. But I still had a lot of resistance in my heart to pursuing God’s will. I went to a FOCUS conference over Christmas break that year and had a very powerful experience in prayer during Eucharistic Adoration. It was the closest I had ever felt to Jesus, and He showed me His love for me in a very tangible way. Through that encounter with the Lord in Adoration, He helped to connect my head and my heart, so that I not only knew I needed to go to seminary but I also wanted to go. I was accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta after finishing my degree at Georgia Tech.

What is seminary life like for you?

Seminary formation is a very holistic process because the seminary cares about my mind, my body, and my soul. Everything that goes on at the seminary is meant to make me a happy, healthy, and holy future priest. I pray a lot both by myself and with others, and I take great classes in philosophy and theology. In my spare time, I like to exercise or hang out with my brother seminarians. I have grown very close to Jesus during my time in seminary, and I have learned a lot about our Catholic faith. It is also great to spend so much time with a bunch of other guys who love Jesus and are seeking to grow closer to Him.

What do you look forward to about being a priest?

I look forward to being involved in people’s lives, helping them grow deeper in their faith, and bringing them to know Jesus on a personal and intimate level. Since teaching became one of my passions in college, I love explaining and unpacking not just what the faith is but why the Church teaches certain things. I want to help people understand the beauty and genius of the Catholic faith. I have developed a deep desire for spiritual fatherhood because I have seen that is what a lot of people today really want and need.  I am also really looking forward to making Jesus present in our world through the Sacraments, both in celebrating the Sacraments and in preparing people to receive them.

What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?

Know that Jesus wants what is best for you and that what’s best for you will make you incredibly happy. Ask Him what He wants for you. Pray every day. Prayer is the most important thing for any Christian because it’s how we deepen our relationship with the Holy Trinity. Find a good group of friends that will help you to grow in holiness and to desire God’s will for your life. It is okay to have doubts, fears, resistances, and concerns. Talk about them with God, your family, your friends, and priests you trust. The last thing you want to do is keep everything bundled up inside and hidden. Hang out with other guys who are thinking about the priesthood to support each other. Finally, seminary is a place to more fully and intentionally discern God’s call to the priesthood and to see whether He in fact is calling you to be a priest.