Father Dan Scheidt, 2016 Chaplain of the Year – Great Lakes Region
“DON’T THINK IT’S COINCIDENCE JESUS CHOSE BUSINESS PEOPLE AS FIRST APOSTLES”
Anyone who has used the popular Confession app on his smartphone can thank Father Dan Scheidt, who wrote the app’s extensive examination of conscience.
Fr. Dan Scheidt
Father Scheidt, 47, the chaplain for Legatus’ Fort Wayne Chapter in Indiana, was recently named Legatus’ 2016 Chaplain of the Year for the Great Lakes Region. He attributes that honor to a thriving chapter with many faith-filled members.
Ordained nearly 16 years, Father Scheidt, a former high school theology teacher, has many passions that include sacred art and architecture, not to mention a lifelong interest in the life and writings of Thomas Jefferson. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.
What makes Legatus’ Fort Wayne Chapter as vibrant as it is?
I think we have certain members who have really assumed a spiritual responsibility for building friendships and they believe people who serve in the business world have a spiritual life that can only be cultivated in the friendships of the Church. They’ve just actively brought more and more people to share that friendship.
What fascinates you the most about Thomas Jefferson?
Although Jefferson had deep problems when it came to slavery and religion, he was also a man deeply committed to the formation of a thriving republic and also he took an interest in every aspect of building up the culture of the new country. Jefferson was really my entry into the world of studying culture and it was precisely because Jefferson challenged the faith that my faith became deeper.
How did you discern your priestly vocation?
After college, I taught high school theology for a number of years, and it was through my teaching that I felt a desire to give my students more than I could in the classroom. I wanted to give through the sacraments.
How does your teaching background help you in your priesthood?
A teacher has to, on a daily basis, get up in front of all sorts of different people. It certainly helps in public speaking and in formulating a clear message that can win people’s hearts.
What have been your impressions of Legatus?
I have been very impressed at the response of business people to enter into friendships beyond their particular business. The philosopher Aristotle said friendship for the young tends to be based on hanging out with those who are pleasing and that friendship for those who are older tends to be based on being with people who are useful to me. But Aristotle pointed out that the highest friendship is benevolence. The membership of Legatus, beyond the pleasant evenings together, beyond any networking possibilities, clearly delights in the goodness of our faith because it’s good.
How did you come to develop the examination of conscience for the Confession app?
I was friends with the app’s developers. In developing that app, we had no idea it would be so useful for special-needs children because it helps autistic children organize their thoughts so they don’t have to worry about remembering everything when they come to the sacrament.
Do you have any other hobbies and interests?
I love running, sacred art and architecture. I am currently designing a 92-seat perpetual adoration chapel for our parish. Also, to go back to Jefferson, the thing that inspired me most about him obviously wasn’t all of his political and religious views, certainly concerning slavery, but what inspired me was his interest in architecture, and I’ve tried to continue that interest in my priesthood.
Any final thoughts?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus chose business people as his first four apostles; Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the fifth guy, Matthew, to be a tax man. He could have called professional biblical scholars or people more closely associated with the Temple, but he called business people because he wanted them to be at the heart of the Church, building it up from the center of the world.