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 was lead to the priesthood by frequenting the sacraments and by cultivating a discipline of quiet prayer. The sacrament of reconciliation created a sacramental context in which to experience the priesthood in a sort of inter-personal dialogue, and I think that this helped me to form a ministerial consciousness. I also had good priestly models from the parish clergy. All of these factors culminated in a healthy deliberation on the possibilities of where God was drawing me.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
It is always an oversight not to consider the authors who shape out thinking. Therefore, I would say priest-authors like Athanasius of Alexandria, François de Sales, and John Henry Newman influenced me. My family and parish clergy were also instrumental in my considerations inasmuch as they were always positive and supportive in the pursuance of my vocation. I would also count the parishioners within the ranks of those who helped me arrive at some understanding of my vocation. The ecclesial life within the many parishes that I have belonged was certainly a help in making me understand the socio-aggregative role of God’s minister. I would also count Saint Philip Neri among the people who interceded for me and encouraged me by his saintly example.
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 to help the seminarian to draw closer to God just like any Christian. However, in the seminarian's case, prayer helps to assess the value of his experience in the seminary in a considered, serene, cumulative way. Prayerful consideration confers a new level of intelligibility that is not really from us, yet made clearer to us. The seminarian must pray in order to gain the spiritual sustenance necessary to persevere in the seminary, but more importantly, to survive in the parishes as a minister of God. When prayer (inasmuch as it can be a discipline) becomes habitual, it becomes a part of your life that you feel dependent upon to see where and how God is drawing us to a life of charity. God uses instruments to to make his paths known to us, but prayer makes the instruments as divinely posited better known to us.
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
Find a good priest mentor, establish a daily routine of quiet prayer, only take advice from wise friends, frequent the sacrament of reconciliation, and enjoy the good things that God has set before you in your youth. I would also recommend reading many of the great Christian Classics. Be open to the possibility that God may be calling you to other things. Time at the seminary often has the effect of recalibrating our ability to clearly focus on our true vocation. In short, you can’t really waste your time in trying out the seminary or asking God to draw you to a better situation.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I really enjoy being in school and learning about things to have direct relevance to what I aspire to do and be. I am happy to say that I live with very good people and that this has enriched my life. I do think that the seminary is a social laboratory in the best sense of the word. At the seminary, we come to understand human nature as it is subjected to the routines of a healthy regimen for mind and soul. There are many fine discussions to be had here for sure. Our observations of the communal landscape provide us with the opportunity to arrive at a better insight as to the various ways in which God discloses himself to others.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
I think that people see as challenges the length of time until ordination, the future of our institutions, the moral certitude involved in assuming the onus of the priesthood. One may perhaps find the external surroundings of the clerical life in such a monumental facility a little uninviting to say the least. Someone might not be able to picture themselves leading the quasi-regimented life as it presents itself in its particular instantiation at the seminary. Someone might not have a moral support structure from his family or friends. All of these perceived barriers challenge our courage to go forward.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I like to read and watch an occasional film. I must admit that I am at loss to answer this question, as the boundaries between leisure and duty seem to coalesce very often in my activities. I’m am one of those people who actually enjoy reading material which is coincidentally similar in genre to the reading that we are required to do in school. I understand “hobby” to be any solitary activity one cultivates in order to pass the time in a leisurely way. I don’t have any trouble filling my time with the things that I am supposed to do, let alone with things that I would freely choose to do in my spare time. In short, my pastimes are spent recuperating from my labours through rest, bicycling, reading, or watching films.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I think that the Archdiocese is doing a good job at the central level. At the central level, I’m not sure that much more can be done that is not already being done. Pastors are the ones who can make the best impression of the men in the parish, so it might be the parish clergy who would invest time and consideration in their own men. It is a an invaluable asset to have a priest who demonstrates his unwavering support for a man who expresses interest in the priestly ministry.