BY: MELISSA SOLANO
As the school ushers in the 2012-2013 school year and new students, the Priestly Discernment Program is welcoming a new director, the Rev. Robert Arnello.
“The Priestly Discernment Program’s formation philosophy and activities are very similar to those I championed in my doctoral dissertation, making the position opening irresistible,” Arnello said regarding why he chose to take the job.
Arnello comes to Franciscan University of Steubenville for his first year as director of the program along with his associate director, the Rev. David Vogel, making it the first time in years that there has been two full-time staff members for the program.
A Wisconsin native, Arnello studied at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to complete a Ph.D. in the History of the Church in the Americas, while serving as a confessor in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
While he plans to keep the core of the program the same as it has been for years, he said he will be refining different aspects of the program. He believes the key to good leadership is not to change things right away.
“We’re always looking to improve how relevant the program is to young men of this generation,” says Arnello.
As a part of his job, he will provide leadership in planning for the program and its activities, including recruiting speakers for their weekly Thursday evening formation meetings as well as retreat masters for the spring retreats.
The program’s topic for the fall semester is putting a focus on God the Father and on Fatherhood in general. He acknowledges that of the 37 students in the program (13 being new this year), some will live single lives, become married or enter religious life. He hopes this topic will have the overarching ability to encompass all these vocations. The theme of the spring semester will be closely related to the Holy See’s upcoming Year of Faith.
Arnello said what he likes most about his job is what drew him to it initially- the challenge the position presents. He enjoys being a part of the vocations of the next generation, as well as working with such young men for the first time, something he initially was a bit anxious about.
“They have enlightened my life and made me younger,” he said.
The feeling is certainly mutual.
“He’s really fun, really great,” said a senior from the program, Anhvu Nguyen, “and very organized.” He also said that Arnello is humorous, and the boys in the program have bestowed upon him the illustrious nickname “Bobby Wan Kenobi, because the way he wears his habit makes him look like a Jedi.”
Freshman Drew Pultorak said: “Fr. Bob is an amazing man of God, and I am very excited for him to lead everyone in the program closer to Christ. He is very knowledgeable and seems like he has great insight on vocations.”
Father Bob’s palpable enthusiasm, love and interest in the Priestly Discernment Program have gone neither unnoticed nor unreciprocated by those in the program, and these traits will surely be great assets in helping the program grow and develop during this school year.