MIDLAND Recently ordained a priest and on his first assignment as parochial vicar, or assistant pastor, at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church at 4601 Neely Ave., the Rev. Kevin Lenius says his spirituality grew gradually over the years and began to mature when he was in high school.

The Rev. Lenius’s ambition had crystallized by the time he graduated from Abilene Cooper in 2012 and he prepared at seminaries in Conception, Mo., Houston and St. Louis, Mo., till being ordained by Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo on May 21 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Abilene.

His pastoral year between studies in Houston and St. Louis was at San Miguel Archangel Catholic Church in Midland.

The only priest in his family, he said, “I didn’t think much about church when I was young.”

“It was just something we did on Sundays. When I was going into high school, I started learning more about my faith and what it meant to be Catholic. Abilene is a very Protestant town and that made me question why I was Catholic.

“In communion, I learned, it’s not bread and wine at all, it’s literally the body and blood of Christ. That’s God on the altar giving himself to me. I was coming to know Jesus Christ personally and meeting the God who created me and loved me.”

Lenius also found spiritual meaning in playing violin in the Cooper Cougars’ orchestra and in his church choir. “God spoke to me through music and he still does,” he said.

“Many of those times of music became times of prayer.”

Working with St. Stephen’s pastor, the Rev. Rodney White, Lenius had been preaching in mid-July about the wisdom of aligning one’s self with the will of God. “God only wants what’s best for us,” he said.

“We don’t have to be afraid when he might challenge us to change our lives because it is only for our good. His love for us is beyond our imagining.”

The Most Rev. Sis said Lenius “is a man of many talents.”

“Father Kevin excelled in his academic work, he has great social skills, he is a gifted violin player, he speaks very good Spanish and his preaching really connects with people,” Sis said. “At every parish where he has served, the people have said they loved him. Having grown up in Abilene and graduated from Abilene Cooper High School, he understands the people and cultures of Texas.

“His parents live in Abilene and they are very supportive of his dedication to ministry in the church.”

As he was growing up, Father Kevin played his violin in the church choir every week. Those choir members are so close to him that, when he got ordained, they felt almost as if a member of their own family were getting ordained.

“He has lots of energy for ministry and he is always willing to get up and serve wherever he is needed. He has a true shepherd’s heart.”