Congratulations to Fr. Brian O'Hanlon who was ordained a priest on May 18, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.
He is assigned to the Collaborative of Saint Mary Parish and Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn.
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?
There comes a point when God's call becomes difficult to ignore. Through prayer and spiritual direction, I was able to discern that I should enter a diocesan seminary, and my life had brought me to Boston, so I entered here.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
Certainly my spiritual director was a help, as I had thought that I wanted to enter religious life, so he helped me to pray about that, and I eventually discerned a call to the life of a parish priest. My pastor was very supportive when he found out that I decided to apply for Boston, and other friends and priests have encouraged 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?
Prayer is absolutely essential and a central part of our life. While we tend to pray to ask for things, we are truly communicating with God and coming to know Him better. Through prayer, we learn that His will is to be done, rather than our own, and so we are more able to be at peace with where He wants us to be.
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?
I would say become disciplined with prayer and the sacraments, especially communion and confession. Ask about a spiritual director, so that you may be guided in what you are learning in prayer, and finding where you are at peace in it.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I like that everything is directed at God. Of course, whatever our station in life, we are called to do everything for Him and think of Him always, but here in the seminary, He is present in the chapels, and our life revolves directly around Him and our service to Him and His creation.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
The greatest challenge is putting aside his current life and diving in. It is very difficult not to have a salary and not to be on one's own, but rather live in a community with its own rules. It is also hard to contemplate the change in one's life, and how different things will be, but one must trust in God and make the leap if one is called.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I enjoy outdoors activities - camping, hiking, canoeing, and the like. I also enjoy going for long drives, especially to new places. I try to read when I can for pleasure, and I spend some time doing computer programming and puzzles and electronics projects.
What are some of your favorite authors/books/movies?
I enjoy a lot of Russian literature; “Brothers Karamazov” is one of my favorite books. Others are “Brideshead Revisited”, “The Great Gatsby”, and “The Imitation of Christ”. Some of my favorite authors are Father Ronald Knox, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Archbishop Fulton +Sheen, and William Shakespeare.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I think that people really need to encounter Christ in our churches. Firstly, Church, and particularly the Mass, should be something that is really distinct and different from our experience every day. The architecture, decor, language, and music should be unlike what we experience elsewhere, but rather should draw us out of the world and closer to Christ. Secondly, Priests need to be familiar with the people, know their flocks, and treat them lovingly, rather than simply as customers or business clients, and themselves draw people to Christ in all that they do.