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Two new seminarians begin study at Bishop White in Spokane

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

The following story appeared in the August 27 Idaho Catholic Register.

By Gene Fadness


While the journey of each Diocese of Boise seminarian is as distinct as are the men, all seem to have a common thread: a call that can’t be resisted until finally, the men say yes to further discern a call to priesthood by entering seminary. It is no different for the two young men who have entered discernment for the Diocese of Boise this year: Nicholas Sower and Nathan Ribb.

Nicholas Sower

For Sower, of Nampa, the call was “always on the back burner, but lately the heat has been turned on,” he said.

Sower, son of Rob and Gina Sower, grew up in a devoutly Catholic home, where going to daily Mass, Reconciliation and Adoration was commonplace. “I wouldn’t have ever felt inspired to strive after a life of sanctity if not for my parents, who are saints themselves,” Sower said. His family attends both the Cathedral of St. John and Evangelist and St. Paul’s Parish in Nampa.

Priesthood was “always in the back of my mind for as long as I could remember, but I tried to push it away,” Sower said. “Even though it was in my mind, it was distasteful because I wanted to date and thought about raising a family,” he said.

He graduated from high school early this year from TREC Academy. (TREC stands Truth and Trust; Respect and Responsibility; Excellence and Edification; and Cooperation and Compassion.) Sower says he is grateful to one teacher in particular, Suzanne Sieker, who had a positive influence on him.

After finishing high school, he took a job building patios, roofing and other home construction projects. Though he enjoyed the work, seminary was always on his mind.

He begins this fall at Spokane Community College working toward his associate’s degree and, at the same time, will be living with the Bishop White Seminary community on the Gonzaga campus.

Under a new program initiated by Northwest dioceses, first year seminarians will start at Bishop White until they have completed their college years, and then move on to Mount Angel. (Read about the new program)

When he is not studying, Sower likes music, particularly guitar, sports and dirt biking with his brothers Thomas and John Paul.

Nathan Ribb

Nathan Ribb was born and raised in Fresno until this summer.

He chose the Diocese of Boise because a recent move by his mother to Boise and his father and step-mother to Dallas meant that he no longer had family in Fresno. He has visited Idaho several times and is impressed with the Bishop and seminarians here. “It just has a different feel than Fresno. It seems like a lot of the people here really live out their faith,” he said. Plus he has a lot of family here in addition to his mother.

He has visited with Father Nathan Dail, vocations director and also talked to seminarian Tim Segert whose seminary roommate was Greg Franz, Ribb’s uncle.

“Tim said the Bishop really cares about the seminarians and there is a lot of support for them throughout the Diocese. The Diocese of Boise is not as large as Fresno, so I think there will be a better support system, which is important for me,” he said.

Ribb, the second of four children, attended St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School during his elementary years and Edison High, a public high school.

The switch from his Catholic elementary school of just 600 students to a 2,700-student public high school was at times a difficult decision, but he believes it contributed to his choice to consider priesthood.

“The high school confused me at first because not everyone believed in God. In fact, I realized I was in a small minority.” That, he said, challenged him to deepen his faith so that he could defend it.

“I started pursuing the faith in my junior year after a deeper conversion and a desire to change my life,” he said. He began attending daily Mass and praying the Rosary daily. That led him to think about priesthood especially when parishioners at Mass asked him if he was discerning. “I would tell them that I was not,” he said. Like Sower, he said he kept “pushing seminary to the back of my head, and it would not leave me alone.”

After graduating high school, he enrolled in Cal State-Fresno’s pre-nursing program for two years.

During the summer of 2020, he began a study of eschatology (the theology of death, judgement and the final state of the soul). During that study, “a switch was flipped,” he said, as he came to the realization that many people may not know the plan of salvation. “In a moment of great grace, I understood that if God could use me as an instrument to bring at least one soul to Him, it would be worth it to me.”

He will also enroll at Bishop White Seminary, taking college courses at Gonzaga.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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