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
Becoming involved in my home parish, especially the youth group and youth music group, led me back to the faith and to the Church. This eventually allowed me to open my heart to the possibility of entering Seminary. I needed the encouragement of priests, friends, and family too. I saw myself so attracted to the vocation, with a desire to celebrate the sacraments and shepherd souls. This was especially true as I began my freshman year of college, during which I more seriously discerned the call to the priesthood and eventually entered Seminary.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
Certainly the witness of priests around me led me to the decision to enter the seminary and discern the priesthood. The priests that served as witnesses to me are those I was close to, whether in the parish or on pilgrimage. Their holiness of life, their joy, and the practical wisdom that they offered assisted me in the difficulties and the joys of my own life. Included in my decision too was the encouragement of friends. As I began to have my own considerations about the priesthood and realized its relevancy to my life, I think my friends did too, and they made it clear in their words to me that they thought I was called to be a priest.
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 in the life of a seminarian is central. It is a part of the beginning, the middle, and the end of our day so that we may always be aware of the Presence of God, attuned to His voice and ready to do His will. Prayer is a source of joy, of peace, and it manifests to us the importance of conversion. Our friendship with God grows as we spend time with Him. Prayer has the single most important effect on our ability to see God's call for our life. By going to Him and expressing our desire to hear His voice, we may come to know Him more deeply and to know His desires for 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?
"Be not afraid"! These words are repeated time and again by Our Lord in the Gospels. In his first homily given as Pope, Saint John Paul II said, "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ! Accept His power." Open your heart to the possibility of discerning a vocation. Christ is seeking courageous men to bear witness to His Gospel and shepherd souls to Him, especially through the celebration of the sacraments! The priesthood is not dull, or irrelevant - it is a total self gift to Christ for the sake of the salvation of souls. If He is calling you, He will provide you with unimaginable and overflowing graces to answer His call and remain faithful to Him.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
Our life is a rhythm of prayer, study, and time for recreation and fraternity with one another. All of these are good and important aspects of our lives, but what captivates me most is the time spent with the Lord each day. We have a unique privilege of living with Jesus! He is always there for us, and we have ample time to spend with Him.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
Today's culture does not particularly lend itself to discerning a priestly vocation, and that is the greatest challenge, I think, facing a man who is considering the seminary. It certainly is not the popular thing to do, nor does it bring with the worldly success which so many people are seeking. But it is a beautiful and incredible call nonetheless, and our victories or successes, God pleased, will be for the salvation of souls.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I really enjoy cycling and fly-fishing. I began to fly fish a few years ago and have grown to love it. There are limitless possibilities as to where to fish and what type of fish to go after. It is always an adventure. Cycling is also very enjoyable. It is good exercise, and I really like to plan longer rides (20+ miles) to places I have not been before. It allows me to see so much in a short period of time, all the while in silence and beholding God's creation.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
Our witness can never be discounted as a source of encouragement to people! I think that the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood is to be present to them first, and then be prepared to give testimony to what God is doing in our lives. We ought to be present in schools, institutions, parishes and the like to do the important work of building a culture of vocations.