What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern the question of a vocation to the priesthood?
I began discerning a call to the priesthood following the annual Discernment Retreat with the Archdiocese of Boston. I realized then for the first time in my life that it was an actual possibility that God may be calling me to be a priest. I began praying about it, and of course it is from prayer where one truly comes to know their vocation. I think it was through frequent prayer, and simply asking the Lord what it was He was asking of me, that He began to place the desire on my heart. The witness of good, holy priests in my life also encouraged me in my discernment and allowed me to see the beauty that is the life of the priest. Also, the Boston University Catholic Center was a place where I was able to grow in my faith, form friendships centered on Christ, and prayerfully and truthfully seek out the Lord's will for me.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
Father David Barnes, chaplain at the Boston University Catholic Center, was a big influence during my discernment process. I believe that it was through witnessing him live out his priesthood with joy and love that opened my heart to hearing God's call. Once I was in the midst of discerning, he was there to give good advice and encourage me, no matter where the Lord was calling me. Father Hennessey, the Vocation Director was also of great help during the discernment process, asking questions and being there every step of the way.
What would you say is the role of prayer in the life of a seminarian and what effect does it have on one's ability to see God's call?
The role of prayer in the life of any Christian is essential as it allows our relationship with the Lord to develop and flourish, but especially in the life of a seminarian who is called to conform himself in a very intimate way to the Lord. This can only take place through knowing Him, and one can only get to know Him through a life of prayer. Like with any vocation, the call to the priesthood and the preparation of it in the seminary comes along with its challenges. Through prayer, a seminarian can get through these challenges and tough time by seeing the Lord in the midst of them. Likewise, through prayer, it is easier to recognize the many blessings that the Lord pours out upon you in the course of formation. Truly, everything the seminarian does should flow from his relationship to the Lord in prayer, and be directed to it.
What advice would you give to a man who thinking about his vocation and is considering that God may be calling him to be a priest
Ask Him! Ask the Lord, with an open heart and mind what it is He is asking of you. Be persistent and ask for the grace to not only hear His voice, but to have the courage and strength to answer Him with a resounding "Yes!" Also, talk to a good priest friend, or even your Vocation Director. You aren't in this alone, and not only have these men discerned themselves, but odds are they've helped other men in their discernment processes as well. I would also recommend reading and becoming more familiar with who the priest is and what his life entails. Read the lives of holy priests, especially Saint John Vianney and Saint John Paul II. Another great resource is "To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood," by Father Brett Brannen.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
One of my favorite things about being a seminarian is the routine we have throughout the week. It's truly a blessing to have scheduled time for prayer each day, including Daily Mass and Holy Hours during the week. In formation, we are are being formed into the Lord's priest, and the best way to do this is to spend time with Him. I often need to remind myself that part of my "job" each day is to spend time in prayer with the Lord. It's a real privilege and blessing. There are certainly challenges, and some times are busier than others, but with scheduled time each day during the week for prayer, we are sure to spend time with the Lord, Who puts all things into perspective for us and helps us through it all.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
I think, perhaps, the fear of the unknown can be a real challenge for a man considering the priesthood. They may not know what the life of a seminarian is like, or what the life of a priest is like outside of Sunday Mass. I think human nature desires to know everything, or as much as possible, before making a commitment. To enter the seminary is certainly a commitment, and to be ordained a priest is a lifelong one. God may not reveal everything to us at once, but He shows us enough to make a decision. Talk to you Vocation Director, ask questions, come and visit the seminary and stay over! I'd also again recommend reading "To Save a Thousand Souls," by Father Brett Brannen, a great, and comprehensive, book on discerning the diocesan priesthood.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
In my free time, I enjoy reading, riding my bike, playing cribbage, and playing sports. You can expect pick-up games of ultimate frisbee, soccer, or softball (and maybe even cricket) at the seminary when the weather is nice.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I believe the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood anywhere is by creating a culture of vocation. I remember when telling friends at the BU Catholic Center about my discernment, and eventually about my decision to enter seminary, that there was certainly joy and excitement, but, for the most part, it was something perfectly normal. I think that this is because there is such a vibrant culture of vocation there and it has become very natural and normal for young men and women to discern their vocations and seriously consider the priesthood and religious life. I believe there are many vocations out there, but without a culture of vocation, the seed may not be planted or not take root. I think that through encouraging young people to actively discern, through the witness of holy priests, and through persistent prayer, a culture can be created in which those vocations take root and flourish into vocations to the priesthood and religious life.