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 young, I was attracted to the liturgy. I always had a profound love and devotion for the Mass and the Eucharistic Presence. For years I had developed a deep desire to inspire and bring people into a deeper relationship with our Lord through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In my experience there are so many Catholics who take the Mass for granted and do not even realize what they are witnessing and experiencing and I hope to rekindle and inspire a new love for the Mass.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
I have been blessed to have many a good role model. My first pastor as a kid was Father Albert Sylvia who was a great holy and humble priest who gave me my first intimate glimpse into what the priesthood was. Deacon Jerry Rocha influenced me a great deal through his work on our parish CCD program. He was tireless in his efforts to help our small parish grow and sustain our CCD program and worked hard to bring us good catechesis. The most recent and most influential person would have to be Father Patrick Armano. He became a great friend and mentor and he gave me the confidence to follow my heart in what I always thought was God’s call and he reassured me that I had a vocation even in times I when I doubted that God was calling me.
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?
A priest cannot be a priest without praying. So too the seminarian. The seminarian is studying to be a priest, a priest is an Alter-Christus(another Christ), Scripture tells us Christ prayed often, almost constantly. Therefore the Priest and the seminarian must pray often as well if they are to be like Christ. Christ cannot be approached solely by the intellect. We cannot just ponder about him with our reason. We have to search for him and talk to him, engage him in private conversation while kneel before him present in the Blessed Sacrament or in the Tabernacle. A healthy prayer life is essential in the life of the seminarian. Christ said "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Without prayer we cannot be part of the vine, and without that attachment to the vine, we can do nothing.
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?
Pray, Listen, Go to Mass, Be open with your Pastor, Pray again. Prayer is essential in listening to God’s voice. Being at mass and receiving special graces from reception of the Eucharist also essential in being able to open yourself up to receive God’s grace and align yourself with what the Father wills. Having an open line of communication with your pastor is very helpful. Having someone to talk to that has been in your shoes and knows the uncertainties and fears you have is very helpful in figuring things out and helping you put feelings and emotions and experiences into perspective.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I love the communal prayer life and fraternal aspect. I feel privileged to be able to attend mass every day, and spend time before our Eucharistic Lord every day.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
I would say the greatest challenge facing a man considering seminary today would be detachment from the world. With the advent of social media, and iPhones that now put the world literally in our hands, it can be hard to just shut it all off and walk away.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
When I’m not reading for class, I definitely enjoy reading a good history book or historical fiction novel. I enjoy getting together with my seminarian brothers and watching movies or sports. I enjoyed cooking and baking before entering seminary and I continue to find new recipes for my fellow seminarians to try whenever we get together for movie nights or board game nights.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
Fulton Sheen once wrote, “As the Church gets the kind of pope she deserves, so she gets the kind and number of priests she deserves…Why do some countries have so few? Because few people, even few parents, pray for priests.” What is the best way to encourage vocations? Make it a priority. Make praying for vocations a priority for intentions of the faithful in every parish. Boston must pray for and want priests and want them to come from their families. A very holy priest here at the seminary, every time he prays for vocations at a parish he adds, “from your families.” Why from their families? Because praying for vocations isn’t a pie in the sky idea. Seminarians are flesh and blood men who come from families, they don’t spring up from under the ground. Someone cannot have an attitude in praying for vocations and think, “yes, but not my son.” When we remove this attitude from the hearts of ma