By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published July 22, 2010
For Father Llane Briese, the road to priestly ministry started by being duped.
Friends from his Life Teen group at St. John Neumann Church, Lilburn, planned to go to an event at Christ the King Cathedral and encouraged the then 15-year-old to come. What they neglected to tell him was the talk focused on priestly discernment.
The invitation was a trick, but it really got him thinking, he said, speaking from his office at St. Mark Church, Clarkesville, where he is serving this summer. After graduation from St. Pius X High School, he said the feeling to serve the church as a priest grew.
“I should listen and pray about it,” he remembers thinking.
He set off for Clemson University to study engineering. Father Briese threw himself into the life of the church on campus, attending daily Mass when it didn’t conflict with tests, teaching religion and keeping in touch with mentors and priests from Atlanta.
But after a year at the South Carolina university he decided to test this desire. He became a seminarian for the archdiocese in 2004. He left the Clemson campus for the smaller Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He changed majors to philosophy and joined like-minded people. He graduated in May 2006 and was sent to Rome, Italy, that fall for theology studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
A native of South Carolina, Father Briese grew up around suburban Atlanta, eventually living in Snellville while a student at St. Pius. He graduated in 2003. He attended St. John Neumann Church.
Father Briese’s friends from Life Teen have served as role models as he went through seminary and now as he starts his priestly life, he said. The group had people in all stages of life, from 20-something singles to couples with many years of marriage behind them.
“All were living a faithful Catholic life, but they weren’t copies of each other,” he said.
Folks showed how to live their faith at different times of life and broadened his view, he said.
“They know how to have fun and be faithful,” he said.
These friends break the stereotype that people are either religious with dreary lives or lead exciting lives without any concerns with faith, he said.
As a priest, Father Briese said he will use his skills to be a better pastor, from his deep knowledge of the Bible to his positive attitude.
“I’m kind of a go-get-’em kind of person,” he said.
Father Briese said he isn’t intimidated, either by celebrating Mass speaking only a rough kind of Spanish or by not having all the answers to situations that confront him.
“That’s not going to stop me from being present and doing the best I can,” he said.
He expects to draw from his advanced degree in biblical theology, which he’ll complete in Rome in 2011, to inspire and educate parishioners about the Scriptures.
And this fits since he looks forward, in particular, to teaching adults and young people.
“I love teaching. I love it when I look in someone’s eye and see that they have gotten it,” he said.
Father Briese said one area where he expects to grow is in understanding the flow of parish life.
“I try to have big ears. I’m trying to listen to others,” he said.
Two of his favorite internships during seminary were assignments in parishes, where he worked with the parish council, got involved with parish events and spent time with people.
At 24 years old, Father Briese said he knows he has a lot to learn from others’ lived experiences.
“I have to put myself out there,” he said.