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?
This question invites me to enter into memories which, I have to admit, form my identity yet are not always at the forefront of my mind. In some sense I have always known I was to be a priest, with such an acknowledgement there was then always a desire to stay close to the Word who is Jesus. As a boy, Our Lady allowed her maternal affection to be known and experienced, her presence was of great consolation. I will forever be grateful to the Holy Virgin for her love for me. Everywhere I looked I would experience the rosary. I also grew up during the pontificate of the great St John Paul II. During my childhood, from what I remember, the Eucharist was not at the center of our parish life, this was a great pain as it was contrary to what the great Saint Pope would preach. His Words then taught me how to pursue with hunger the great gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. The emptiness of the world and the pain of life I saw in my family and friends could only be mitigated by time with Jesus. Therefore Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament became not only an escape but also a source of fortitude and patience. The scrutiny and criticism I received from peers and mentors when they would hear of my discernment in some way only fed a fire, a fire that burned in me, it was a desire to be different and to be totally His own. Eventually I started going to St Patrick Church, the culture of the parish and the witness of the Friars provided to me a powerful time of formation. I am always mindful of the debt I owe to the Dominican Friars for what they provided, knowingly or not. To close, when the world would offer a challenge to my vocation, the Lord would always offer Communion to me through the sacraments, Our Lady, St John Paul II, and the beautiful witness of fidelity lived out by priests, religious, and lay faithful alike. Should a man want to know how to overcome a challenge to his vocation, that man must look out of himself towards that which the Lord provides in that moment, namely Himself. Jesus always speaks through the unfolding of reality.
How would you describe your experience in the seminary?
With a great sense of humor I would first say my experience in the seminary is one which is over. The seminary was an incredible time period of formation, growth, pruning, and being loved. Too often we refer to seminary as a place but in truth it’s an experience not merely a location. I entered at the age of 18, right out of high school. The fraternity of my seminary brothers was a true gift, friendships developed which forever changed me. It doesn’t matter if you ask me about when I was 18, 21, or 25, the formation received was an introduction to life, the Christian Life lived as an “alter Christus.” As a result of one’s prayer life and total dependence upon the Lord, seminary never really ends, it just changes and grows into the priesthood. I try to remember Jesus must be at the center of every moment, with humility then I must admit my experience of seminary continues.
What has been the best thing about being a priest?
From my limited experience, the best thing about being a priest is the opportunity to live the life of Jesus; for my hands to be a Bethlehem, for my feet to walk Calvary, for my mind to be a Nazareth or Jerusalem and my Heart to be a Bethany. Being a priest means allowing the life of Jesus to be united to every facet of my soul and body.
What does being a priest mean to you?
The invitation to be a priest is an invitation given by the Lord to be alive. The reality of the priesthood for me is none other than an opportunity not merely to exist and to function but rather to truly be alive and to love. For me, I am sometimes tempted to be overwhelmed by a world that sees everything in light of time and function, something is from the past, or of the present, or for the future and likewise, something is of use or not of use because it can function or not. The priesthood of Jesus Christ, for me, is a way of being wherein everything is of the already and the not yet and “being” is of importance not “doing”. The union of the man who is a priest with Jesus the Christ is a union in the Heart of one who desires to be with the One who is and forever will be. “We are called to plant the seeds of trees, under whose shade we will never sit.” – St. Anthony of Padua
Fr. Dave Sizemore
Fr. David Poliafico
Fr. Jim Klima
Msgr. Joseph Hendricks
Fr. Brian O'Connor
Fr. Nic Ventura
Vocation and Discernment
St Louise de Marillac
Bishop James E Walsh
Dom Helder Camera
Diocese of Columbus, OH
Office of Vocations
197 E Gay Street
Columbus OH 43215