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Editor’s Note: This story was written by Mark Wagner.

Seminarians at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary are actively discerning a life of service, however, two of those seminarians are already living out a life of service, to their country. Sgt. Trae Sander and Spc. Joseph VanDenheuvel serve in the Wisconsin and Minnesota Army National Guard’s respectively.

Sander, who is a Horizontal Construction Engineer with the 229th Engineer Company in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, said he joined because “I have always loved to be of service to others and I wanted to serve my country.”

VanDenheuvel, who is an Air Traffic Control Operator with the 1/189th General Aviation Support Battalion, 34th Attack Helicopter Division, located at Camp Ripley, in Little Falls, Minnesota, said he joined because “Both of my grandfathers and all of my uncles had been in the military and I knew it was a good opportunity for me to get away from home, and go on my own adventures.”

For Sander and VanDenheuvel, one weekend a month they don their Army Combat Uniform and serve in the guard, but for the rest of the month, they live their life as seminarians. “Going to drill and missing out on some weekends in the seminary makes me lose time and takes time away from being able to do schoolwork,” said Sander. “However, being in the seminary helps me learn to organize my life better, to not procrastinate, and to plan for the future.”

Sander also noted that while seminary and the guard are two different lifestyles, “they complement each other.” Sander spoke of this complementary relationship by saying that “The discipline and the Army and their values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage have all carried over into seminary.”

On a deeper level, VanDenheuvel said that “Through my seminary experience I have been able to connect with my fellow soldiers on a faith level and have been able to help them as they go through their faith journey.”

The military “offers a lot of chances to grow in discipline and to get a routine down,” said VanDenheuvel. However, while the military “teaches you how to grow to be a responsible man, the seminary focuses more on virtue than the military.”

While the military is a part of VanDenheuvel’s life, he really did not begin to go deeper into his faith until attending South Dakota State University. “I went off to college and started having a personal relationship with Christ and that led me to attend daily mass and eventually the Lord kept calling and I finally decided to answer, and come to the seminary,” said VanDenheuvel.

Answering God’s call led both Sander and VanDenheuvel to live out a dual vocation, both in service to their nation and to their Lord.