Monsignor Kenneth Steffen was born in Effingham, Illinois. He was the only one of fifteen siblings who took on the calling to the priesthood. He attributes his family with seeding and nurturing him to his vocation.
According to Monsignor Steffen, “his father had dedicated him to God at a very early age to consider the priesthood, and my mother passed on to me the great gift of faith by practicing it in daily life.” His brothers and sisters supported his decision as well and thanks to the passionate and fierce support of his family, he became the person he is today.
He was ordained to the Priesthood at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in May of 1984. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Cardinal Glennon College in philosophy and a double master’s degree of divinity and in Theology from Kenrick Seminary. In addition, he holds a doctorate of ministry.
Monsignor Steffens is currently serving as Chaplain at Saint Francis Hospital Litchfield Illinois.
What is your hobby?
My hobbies are reading to help make my mind stay sharp, learning more about the computer and the technological advancements of today. In addition, I thoroughly enjoy working out and staying in shape, sharing dinners, and leading pilgrimages to sacred places.
How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?
Some of my hobbies were started as a child when we were all taught the importance of reading, and family time. We were taught that we should be well rounded, whether it be physical, spiritual, emotional, or religious. Traveling and taking pilgrimages came later, as I was inspired by taking groups of strangers on a trip and then return with the closeness of spiritual upon return.
Tell us what you love about it.
What I love about it is witnessing the spiritual awakening that comes from such an experience.
A pilgrimage is the best of both worlds because you can go on a tour and you would see everything a pilgrim would see. But the value of going on a Catholic pilgrimage is that we not only see everything, but we celebrate every aspect as we go. It is truly a blessing to behold.
Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?
Yes, I am the Chaplin for the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in the Holy Land. I am also Chaplin for several ethnic groups such as the Filipino community, as well as the German and Spanish communities.
Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.
I create three booklets to prepare and assist with each individual’s experience. The first booklet is a description of the richness and meaning of a pilgrimage. The second is the itinerary we will be experiencing. It also provides a personal journal for them to take notes at each shrine that we visit. The third booklet is a follow-up book where they can describe the grace, value, and experience they shared of the pilgrimage.
Where do you buy most of your supplies?
The first suggestion I always give is to google the places they will be going. The second suggestion is to pray. There is always a reason for grace in such gifts, having clarity is good to know. Also, check with your priest to see if there are petitions of prayer requested for the location you will be visiting. Reading about the meaning of a pilgrimage would be advised as well.
Are there any good books for beginners?
The Life of a Pilgrim
A movie The Way – Which is an actual movie about a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain
How has this changed your life?
It has broadened my understanding of the church. You see people from all over the world and of all religious persuasions and at all levels of faith. I think it’s important to understand every aspect of that.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
I would first suggest that you find out why you want to go. Prepare by speaking with others who have had the experience. Prepare by watching DWTN, where you can watch others on a pilgrimage. They should also think of a place that they have heard of such as Fatima or Rome or the Holy Land where you can walk the footsteps of Jesus, or Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. People find that their whole understanding of Christ changes. After they come home, the scriptures come alive because you visited these places it brings home the on-going aspect of it.
Are there any other hobbies you have?
Going out to dinner and trying different foods. I enjoy switching it up every once in a while so I can taste foods that I normally don’t get to enjoy. Doing so allows me to be grateful for the different variety of dishes that the fine world has to offer.
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