It is a life's journey rarely taken, but Ben Schmitt believes it is his calling.
Schmitt, a Somerset High School senior, has decided to attend the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn., where he will study philosophy. That could lead to four years of further schooling where he would study theology.
The reactions Schmitt received to his decision have been wide-ranging.
"The friends I've known since kindergarten weren't surprised. It's a new experience for most people. There have been lots and lots of questions," Schmitt said.
Since he was a freshman, Schmitt said he has been feeling drawn toward the ministry. Last summer he decided to apply and was accepted to the seminary in April.
"It's definitely a faith thing, I've felt called to it," Schmitt said. A cousin from Spring Valley was ordained as a deacon. "So it wasn't a bombshell," Schmitt said, saying his family has been very supportive of his decision.
When he began considering this path, Schmitt said one of the early obstacles he had to face was a fear of public speaking. He joined forensics as a freshman to force himself to speak in front of crowds. He said activities at St. Anne's Catholic Church like teaching religious education have also been helpful. He's been asked to speak to confirmation classes and he's served as the chaplain's aide in Bible studies the past three years.
Somerset High School has students do the public address announcing for basketball games and other activities. Cade Colbeth was the announcer, and in Schmitt's sophomore year, Colbeth reached out to Schmitt to be his successor.
A number of other activities have helped Schmitt to prepare for his future. He's active in the Boys Scouts and in cross country and track. He said being captain of the cross country team helped him with his organizational skills.
Schmitt has seven siblings. Their careers range from engineering to technical drawing, marketing and food science. He said seeing the variety of occupations his siblings took made him comfortable in deciding to follow his own course.
Not all people who attend the seminary end up in the ministry. Schmitt said he's not looking too far ahead in his life.
"Right now, my priority is working on my relationship with God," he said.