Meet: Br. Jeffrey Steele
The oldest of four children, Br. Jeffry Steel grew up in Loveland (OH), where his family still lives. A alumnus of Royalmont Academy in Mason (OH), a private Catholic school associated with the Legion of Christ, he is now a seminarian for the Legion. He has spent two years in Germany for his novitiate at Bad Münstereifel, and two years studying classical humanities in Spain. Before his next move to study in Rome, he visited his alma mater to talk to students about his life since grade school.
Br. Jeffrey traces his move to Royalmont in fifth grade to the beginning of his vocation to the Legion. “I don’t remember ever considering the diocesan priesthood,” he says. “Br. Michael Sullivan LC (now Fr. Michael) was working at Royalmont when I came to the school in the 5th grade. He was so down to earth and great with kids, and at the same time he had a profound prayer life. For me, that was amazing. I said to myself: ‘If I were to ever become a priest, I want to be like that.’”
Support from a family who encouraged him to look for God’s will was also decisive, as were school retreats. “During my middle school years, I loved going on camps and retreats and did about one a month,” he says. “We did activities like building bonfires and playing sports, but we also had daily Mass, virtue talks, the rosary, and morning and night prayers. It was an environment that made it easier to hear God.” He remembers that activities with Br. Sullivan and Fr. Matthew van Smoorenburg, LC, made life as a priest seem exciting.
“The way they lived their religious life was appealing to me. They were proud of being a seminarian and a priest, and lived it to the full.”
So far seminary life has been a lot of work — but also a lot of travel. After finishing seventh great at Royalmont, he left Cincinnati for Immaculate Conception Academy in New Hampshire, the Legion’s apostolic school, where he finished 8th grade and high school before joining the Legion and heading for Europe. In the next eight to 10 years before his ordination, Br. Jeffrey will finish bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and theology in Rome, and then complete a master’s degree and a three-year internship. After that, he’ll be assigned to any one of many apostolates around the world involving education, youth groups, family ministry, and evangelization.
It’s exactly the kind of life he wants. “I know that my vocation is a gift from God. He is the ultimate source of my vocation to the priesthood, and He has called me to serve the Church specifically through the Legion. I have the benefit of a fantastic family atmosphere with fellow seminarians and priests who are faithful to Christ and the Church. This is where I’m at home. This is my family.”
If he could go back in time and give his younger, Royalmont Academy self advice, he says, it would be to make goals and do everything with those goals in mind. “At Royalmont, the goal is more than just studying to go to college and get a good job,” he says. “It’s about forming yourself as a Christian, as a good Catholic with solid formation.”
Photos courtesy Royalmont Academy.