- What were some of the challenges you faced while discerning your call to the priesthood, and what gave you the strength/courage to overcome them?
- A couple of things come to mind. For one, I always had a desire to get married and have a family. So as I started discerning the call to priesthood more seriously, the question of “what if I’m actually called to marriage” would frequently surface in my thoughts and prayer. I quickly realized that entering seminary didn’t mean I was suddenly “locked-in” to ordination. Seminary was instead an opportunity to continue the discernment process with the help of a good spiritual director and seminarian brothers who were asking themselves the exact same questions. Another important realization was that I wouldn’t “accidentally” end up in the priesthood. So long as you’re genuinely seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus and being honest in your prayer life, I believe that clarity and sense of peace will slowly start to appear more and more with regard to whether this is the path God actually has in store for you. Another challenge (maybe more of an intimidation than a challenge) was the thought of being in school for another six years. When I finished my undergraduate studies, I thought for sure that I would never go back to school. However, God had other plans. Although it was six more years of school, I found a few things to be true. 1) Six years actually goes by very quickly! Now as a priest, I sometimes wish I had even more time for studies. 2) I’ve found that my studies have been incredibly helpful in my short time as a priest. 3) You’re learning the faith…can’t beat that!
- How would you describe your experience in the seminary?
- I am truly grateful for my time in seminary. Certainly one of the best parts was entering into a more stable prayer life. The time for communal prayer in the morning and evening, daily Mass, daily Eucharistic Adoration, regular access to confession, and the many chapels on campus provided a great environment for digging deeper into one’s prayer life and opening oneself up to the graces God has in store for every seminarian in discernment. Another aspect of seminary I really enjoyed was the brotherhood of seminarians. There’s nothing like it! Coming from all different backgrounds and stages in life, and yet, you have this common bond of discerning together the call to the priesthood. It’s a great gift to be able to develop good, healthy, and virtuous friendships with other men who are simply trying to serve God and His Church. Even though I’ve never considered myself much of an academic, I have to say that I also really did enjoy learning the faith more deeply and the great variety in terms of classes (i.e. Sacramental Theology, Dogma, Canon Law, Church History, Moral Theology, etc.). Seminary has instilled in me a desire to continue learning the richness of the faith every day for the rest of my life. That’s not to say seminary was without its challenges and frustrations at times (as is true of any place in life), but it was an incredible opportunity to be more deeply formed in the faith and to make some friends for a lifetime along the way.
- What has been the best thing about being a priest?
- I feel like this is the obvious answer, but definitely celebrating the Sacraments has been a highlight. When I’m celebrating the Mass, I still find myself at times thinking during the liturgy, “Wait, this is actually happening right now. I can’t believe I’m celebrating the Mass!” Hearing confessions has been a very powerful experience for me. It’s amazing to see the impact of God’s mercy and grace at work in people’s lives. Honestly, one of the best parts of being a priest has been the unexpected. What I mean by that is all of the unplanned encounters and meetings you have with people throughout the week. The reason why I love it, is because in those moments, I usually have no idea what to say. And yet, the Holy Spirit still works. It’s a reminder that it really is God at work while we are just the vessels. Finally, it has been amazing to walk with people in their faith journey. You may be just going about your normal day, but some of your interactions with people are at very pivotal moments in their lives. To walk with people as they experience the various highs and lows of life has been quite a privilege.
- What does being a priest mean to you?
- It means participating in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. For me, being a priest has meant entering into Christ’s sacrifice. This is perhaps most tangibly experienced in the celebration of the Sacraments, especially in offering the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist. I think being a priest is also a call to live in a special relationship with Jesus. Because you are sharing in Christ’s ministry, the priest is called to experience a special intimacy with the Lord. From this relationship with Jesus, you then go out and be Christ to those you meet. Being a priest is being a vessel of God’s grace to the world. I love that the question is, “What does being a priest mean to you?” Because at the end of the day, before anything else, it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are. Who I am is a son of God, a son who has been chosen to participate in the Son’s priesthood.