What do you like most about
being a seminarian?
By far, the best part about being a seminarian is the many ways Jesus Christ has used me, while in this role, to serve his people. A few distinct memories come to mind: praying with a family as a loved one was dying, bringing Communion and praying with the sick, offering prayers at the wake of a parishioner and assisting at the sacrifice of the Mass in countless different churches throughout the diocese and even in other parts of the world. In addition, the ministry of teaching and catechesis has been a huge joy. From talking to students about vocations to teaching a catechetics class in the parish, it is always amazing to see people grow closer to Jesus because of their docility and desire to learn more about him and his church.
What would you say to a young man trying to figure out his calling in life?
I would say be bold and be courageous! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” In today’s culture of relativism, secularism and radical individualism, pursuing any vocation with authentic sincerity is a courageous, noble and very real challenge. The church needs holy fathers and husbands, but there are still many who put off the call to consider the priesthood. In a recent talk I gave to some local Boy Scouts on vocations, I focused on the idea that the priesthood was heroic. I think this is key. Young men want something to strive for and something to achieve. Being a priest in today’s culture is completely foreign to societal norms, but that is why it is so important. So I would say to any man considering the priesthood: be heroic! For the good of your soul and potentially thousands more, talk to a priest you trust and begin the work of discernment. No man went away from discernment or seminary without growing closer to Jesus Christ. As a priest or husband and father, you will serve the church better because of your desire to be open in this way to God’s will.
How is your vocation
different from any other?
The priesthood, as St. John Vianney put it, is the “love of the heart of Jesus.” This vocation is unique and essential to the mission of the church. It is the priest who both intercedes for and ministers to the people of God in the sacrifice of the Mass. As one writer put it, the priest goes from man to God bringing their prayers and concerns to the altar and ultimately offers the body and blood of Jesus to the Father in atonement for his and their sins. In turn, he goes from God to man, bringing God’s only Son in the Eucharist and the Father’s merciful pardon for sins in the sacrament of penance. Because of this intimacy with Christ, and this great responsibility to love his pierced heart and his holy people, the priesthood is unlike any other vocation.
Is there any person or saint whom you credit with interceding on your behalf to God for your vocational discernment?
There are too many people, living and deceased, that have done this for me, but I would like to name a few. First I credit both of my grandmothers, Mahaley and Lou Ann, for instilling in me a love for Jesus, for prayer and for his church. They have both now passed on to their reward and while I deeply miss their presence in my life, I know that they are doing more for me now than they ever could have before. Second, I credit two priests who have supported me tremendously both before and after I gave my “yes” to begin seminary formation. These priests are Fathers Gary Davis and Jeffrey Leger. Both of these men I hold in great regard because of their love for their priesthood, the sincerity with which they take their work and their outstanding generosity and love to the faithful entrusted to their care. Without their example and ongoing encouragement and support, it is hard to say that I would be where I am today. Finally, I credit the intercession of two saints: St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Jude the Apostle. In my own spiritual life, I credit both of these saints for teaching me a greater trust in God’s providence and his merciful love — both of which are necessary for a priest of Jesus Christ.