Twenty-six-year-old Andrew Bilgri knew by the time he reached college that he wanted to live out his Catholic faith. This desire led him to the Newman Center at Illinois State University and he began discerning God’s will for his life. By the end of his freshman year, he felt God calling him to the priesthood.
“The attraction to the priesthood came in the context of preparing for my first Marian Consecration on the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima,” he says. “But I was still new in discernment and a lot more time of prayer was needed for me to better understand that God was calling me.”
By his senior year, Andrew began meeting with the vocations director of the Diocese of Peoria and participated in spiritual direction with a priest. He met the seminarians and visited the seminary, which he found helpful in his discernment.
“In the end, the Lord spoke very clearly, closing doors and opening doors,” he says. “There was a call from the Lord and going to seminary was the next necessary step for my discernment. Therefore, I asked for my application and completed it. It was so great to hear the news that I was accepted and could begin seminary!”
Andrew entered seminary in the fall of 2021 — this was shortly after he had graduated from college and as he was finishing his enlistment in the U.S. Army Reserves. He began his first year of Pre-Theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., one of the oldest Catholic seminaries in the United States.
“It was a gift to be able to be formed at this well-known seminary and to meet many incredible people,” Andrew says. “After my first year, the Diocese of Peoria would begin sending their seminarians to Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill. My seminarian classmates and I were transferred to Mundelein as a result. This was a gift from the Lord because there has been much fruit from my seminarian formation at Mundelein Seminary.”
Andrew is currently attending his second year at Mundelein Seminary and is on track to be ordained in 2027. The middle child of John and Karen Bilgri, he and his family have been parishioners at St. Peter’s for many years. Born and raised Catholic, Andrew was very active in various extracurricular activities.
Growing up, Andrew attended Mass on Sundays and prayed with his family at home. He received a Catholic education by attending St. Peter’s Catholic School for a couple years of grade school, finishing the rest of his education through Quincy Public Schools. Andrew was also an altar server and strived to carry out his duties reverently.
“My extended family was very intent on going to Mass together as a family when we were all together,” he says. “It’s just what we would do as a family. In fact, one of my relatives on their farm has a giant rock — the size of a two-story house — on their hill next to the road with the words ‘Jesus Saves’ painted on it. Not only was it great to explore and have fun on this hill but it was a constant reminder of God’s presence in my life.”
While preparing for Confirmation, Andrew recalls learning about the saints and being inspired through these lessons, as well as the call of the first disciples.
“I was convicted that I wanted to be Catholic for the rest of my life and profess the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church,” he says.
Andrew enjoyed living out his faith through service and getting to know other parishioners. In addition to being an altar server, Andrew performed in the choir as both a singer and musician and participated and volunteered for Totus Tuus.
“Service of the Church is an important aspect of stewardship because as Christians we are called to imitate how Christ gives Himself away for us,” Andrew says. “Each of us is called in some way to give time, talent, and treasure to the Church. It is something we can do. It is something that we must do. And it is something that we ought to do beautifully. We are all unique individuals with gifts given to us by God”
As Andrew points out, this means that we all can be creatively generous in how we apply our time, talent, and treasure!
“Ask the Lord for His will to be done,” Andrew says. “Look to the example of the saints. Then start from where you are at in life. What is most important is that one allows their heart to be given to the Lord so that the person may also make a gift of themselves for another.”
Andrew wishes to extend his love, gratitude, and prayers for the parishioners here at St. Peter’s. He feels blessed to have grown up in such a strong Catholic community, and his family continues to attend our parish.
“Please pray for me and all other seminarians in the United States,” he says. “Pray for our bishops, priests, and religious. Please pray for holy marriages and families. May God bless you!”