(House of Discernment participants with Br. Gerard Hand. From left to right: Jack Manning, Schafer Knostman (Ohio shirt) and Br. Gerard Hand, SA, and Victor Staruszkiewicz.)


Schafer is from Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Purdue University this past spring with a degree in Environmental and Ecological Engineering. He was actively involved in Campus Ministry during college, including ministry to the poor and marginalized.

  1. What stands out in your first 3 weeks?

In the first three weeks, what has stood out to me is the remarkable generosity of our hosts, the Friars of the Atonement. When we arrived at the friary in Manhattan, one of our hosts, Fr. Jim, made it clear that he wanted us to feel at home here. Subsequently, the Friars have worked around their busy schedules to provide us with what we need, daily Mass together, and plenty of time free to think and pray. 

 2. What do you like best about the experience so far?

What I like best is the firsthand exposure to religious life. To some extent, we have been immersed in the life of a friar – praying the Liturgy of the Hours, going to Mass daily, and living in community. In addition, we’ve visited the Friars’ headquarters, met several of the brothers and sisters there, and heard some of their own experiences.

Also, it has been very valuable to learn to live closely with strangers. This is one of the best things since it allows me to try on living with other spiritually-minded people, and to discern with them where to go. It reveals flaws in myself to be confronted, and exposes me to the different ways and holiness of other people, and, it challenges me to love them and learn from them.

 3. What is one message you have heard from God thus far?

One important message I have heard from God is that in joining a program like this, I am asking to be changed. Before arriving, I was thinking mostly about finding some clarity in where God wants me to go. Now I see that I could find that in this time, but the more immediate work is to be changed into a better man, one after His own heart.