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
Ever since I was a high school student I thought it was possible that I may enter seminary one day. I was more religious than most of my peers and I desired to serve the Church, which needed vocations. Still, I had many questions about when and whether I should approach the diocese about applying. At the time it was not clear what God was asking of me. Ultimately it was striving for God, remaining close to the tradition of the Church, that helped me to grow in the spiritual life and in an understanding of my vocation. In good time God opened all the right doors and made it clear that it was time for me to apply to seminary.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
The good example of many faithful priests, men and women religious, and young people who were striving for holiness showed me that only one thing truly matters. We are made for God and He is constantly drawing us towards Himself. Holiness is having an undivided heart for God. Once I was convinced that becoming a saint would provide for happiness and purpose in my life, it became easier to hear and respond to the whisper of God's call. I had always been attracted to the priesthood, but I would not have been able to see my vocation without the example of Christians living their vocation heroically.
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?
It is part of God's plan to work through our prayers. This is certainly true in my own case. Once I started going to daily Mass more regularly, praying the Rosary, reading the scriptures, and praying silently before the tabernacle, everything changed. It is imperative for all Catholics to pray daily, so if a man has reservations about entering seminary it is of no use avoiding prayer! No one can follow God without treating prayer like a necessity, regardless of their vocation. Spiritual growth is always a priority, but entering seminary does change what that looks like. Priests are called to pray for the world and to be teachers of prayer. Seminarians must continue to grow in the spiritual life on a daily basis for not only for the sake of our own holiness, but also to prepare for a prayerful priestly life.
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
Make a plan to grow in holiness. We plan for everything else in life, so why not Heaven too? Ask a priest in your parish for advice on making an appropriate plan of prayer and service, tailored to you and your personal responsibilities. Whether your plan includes making time for silence, serving the poor, reading scripture, volunteering at the parish, the Rosary, or Mass, stick to it. Ask God every day to show you your vocation. If your first priority is to become holy, you will grow attentive and responsive to God's will.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
The formation that I have the opportunity to receive is my favorite part of seminary. Seminary is a blessed time to pray, study, and serve. We are very grateful to the generous benefactors who provide for us and make it possible for us seminarians to focus on our formation. No man is worthy of serving as a priest of Jesus Christ, but it is fitting for priests to be well prepared for ministry. The faculty of the seminary is here to teach and lead us to become virtuous, prayerful men of the Church. After a short but busy career in the financial industry, I am thankful for this time of formation.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
The sacrifices of becoming a Catholic priest can seem impossible to endure for a man who is considering entering seminary. It can seem safer to keep considerations to himself and ignore them. I would want him to know that entering seminary is not the end, but the beginning, of a process. Seminary is a time of formation, which some men discern out of. No one ever regrets time spent in formation. Many men wonder how sure they have to be about their vocation before entering seminary. The vocations director will help you with that if you are honest with him. It is important to remember that God provides the assistance for a man to pursue this vocation and that following Jesus will set you free.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I enjoy the outdoors, so when there is time on a weekend I try to do a day hike on trail in the New England area with other seminarians. Over the summer I hope that we will get to do a longer backpacking trip. I ran a few road races over the past few years, so hopefully some of the runners here will train with me for another race in the future. I also enjoy reading about history, politics, culture, and current events. With so many men of diverse interests and experiences in the house, there is no shortage of conversations to have or hobbies to share with the other seminarians.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I think that we need to talk about vocations more and live like the saints. All vocations have dignity, but they are different. If we show respect for what the priest is and what his role is, men will be naturally more attracted to considering it. We often hear stories about the famous saints, but it is not as common that we understand the radical nature of how they loved God and neighbor. Holiness is attractive. If we commit to becoming saints, we can built up the Church's faith, prayer, and love. A community of faithful, praying, self-giving Catholics will be blessed with vocations.