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 got to the point in my, albeit, young life a couple years ago (I was 22) where I was almost done with college, but I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Finally I just started praying for the Lord to show me where to go and what He wanted me to do with my life. I had, just before discerning my vocation, gone through a "re-version" in my faith and had spent more time in prayer than I ever had in my life before that. People around my parish had also mentioned to me how I would make a great priest, and what shocked me the most is that one of the priests told me that, too! Whenever someone had told me, even when I was younger (middle school/high school) that I would make a great priest, I would just laugh it off, thank them for the compliment, and move on. But after that I stopped laughing and really started to wonder if the Lord was trying to tell me something through these people. So don't stop yourself from praying about it just because you don't think you'd make a good and holy priest, or just laugh it off when people say you'd make a great priest. Pray and listen to the Lord.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
I was very blessed to have people in my life like a couple seminarians I knew, my pastor at the time, Fr. Kelly, and two of my best friends, Kevin and Ryan, to help me and influence me into applying to St. John's. They helped me by just letting me talk everything out with them and they were able to help guide me. They were a constant source of encouragement and would keep checking in with me periodically to see how I was doing.
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 is absolutely essential. Prayer is your relationship with God. So without it you actually can't know what God is calling you to. You can't desire to be a priest if you don't pray, because as a priest part of your ministry is praying/interceding to the Lord on behalf of the people you shepherd, and you also pray for the whole world in your commitment(as a seminarian)/your obligation(as a deacon/priest) to praying the Liturgy of the Hours. So with prayer you grow in your relationship with Christ and you can see where God is leading you in your vocation.
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
Take a lot of time to pray at a church or chapel near you. Time before the Blessed Sacrament in quiet prayer daily (or as frequently as possible) is essential. Go to Mass (daily if possible) and go to Confession regularly. Talk with a priest about it, as they can help guide you in your discernment. It was helpful for me to talk with my pastor throughout the entire time I was discerning seminary and the application process for seminary.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I love all the time we get to pray every day. Whether it's as part of the whole community or just by yourself, it's just awesome. I also like the fraternity here, being able to talk and hangout with, and build friendships with great guys from all over the country (and world) is great, too! Being able to go to the March for Life and the SEEK Conference run by FOCUS and see hundreds of other seminarians is amazing and really strengthens me in knowing that we as a whole are the future of the Church.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
I think the greatest challenge is that our society says that a man needs to be independent and needs to be self-reliant. But entering seminary is counter-cultural. You daily try to be less reliant on yourself and instead rely and depend more on Jesus. But in order to do that you have to take a long look inside yourself and recognize that by yourself you can't attain fulfillment, that it's only in and through Jesus that you can hope to attain fulfillment. Also you need to realize that no matter who you are and what you've done, if God is calling you to be a priest, then seminary is the start of your road to becoming a saint, the saint that the Lord wants you to be. You need to let go of the idea of power, money, and fame being the focal point of your life, which is counter-cultural, and you need to desire to do only God's Will in your life.
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'll work out, read, watch YouTube videos, play pool or Cribbage in the Common Room, or if the weather is nice, throw a frisbee around with some of my brother seminarians.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
Pray, pray, pray. When in doubt pray. Prayer is efficacious. Also if a guy is discerning a potential vocation to the priesthood, talk with him, let him know that no matter if he becomes a priest or not that he has your support and your prayers. If you see a guy that you think would make a great priest, pray about it and then let him know, because you never know! I still remember the people who even when I was just a young altar server told me that I would make a great priest.