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 first began to discern the call in high school, and at the time the most distinctive factor that led to my consideration of a call to priesthood was the deepening love for God and His Church I was experiencing, which developed while I was preparing for confirmation and taking religious studies classes in school. After college and a few years in the working world, my decision to finally enter seminary was born of the realization that our Lord has been calling me continually, ever since I first heard Him as a sophomore at St. John’s.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
Fr. Dan Hennessey, the former Boston vocations director, has had the greatest impact on my discernment process. A mentor and friend of mine over the ten years between the time I first heard the call to the time I finally entered seminary, he’s walked with me every step of the way; from my initial questions about what a vocation to the priesthood meant, through my uneven practice of the faith in college, to my gradual realization that our Lord has been reaching out to me with this great gift for so long. If, God willing, I am ordained a priest, I hope to be able emulate his great patience with whomever I am sent to serve.
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 life of prayer is indispensable for any Christian, but it is especially vital for a man discerning God’s will for his life. Jesus tells us in the gospels that anything asked of His Father will be granted, so it goes without saying that a man should feel empowered to ask his Heavenly Father for the gift of clarity about His will for the man’s life. Daily interaction with the Lord through prayer and recourse to the sacraments will reveal what God is asking, all it takes is just a little bit of trust and perseverance!
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?
To any man considering a vocation to the priesthood, the best advice I can offer you is to come to the seminary! I spent ten years of my life wondering (to varying degrees) about whether or not God was calling me to the priesthood, and I was never able to find a satisfactory answer. I promise that while you remain out in the world, you won’t either. A man needs the structure of seminary life to encounter, in a deeper and more continual way, the grace of God which alone will help illumine his vocation. In communal and personal prayer, in your interactions with your brother seminarians, and through the direction of the faculty, you will be far more likely to reach a mature decision about whether God is calling you to Holy Orders or not. To quote Pope St. John Paul II, do not be afraid!
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
My favorite thing about being a seminarian is the daily horarium, or schedule of life that we live, which has so much time built in throughout the day to encounter the Lord in prayer. Having lived in the world that is so often immersed in distraction, I find it a real blessing to have the opportunity to grow in love for God in such an intimate and profound way.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
Fear of the unknown. I think often a man, who on his own can only ever be so sure of what God is asking of him, fears above all else that he will get to seminary and it won’t be for him; that it will be a waste of time that he could have spent investing in graduate school, or a career, or finding a spouse. I certainly felt that way while applying. With that in mind, I think what I said above is worth repeating, do not be afraid! If God, in whom we have both our being and our salvation, placed this on your heart then He is clearly asking this of you. With just a little bit of trust, the experience will bear fruit in your life in a myriad of ways. It is certainly not a binary choice, between getting your vocation right or wrong, but about allowing yourself the space to deepen your relationship with the Lord and hear with even greater clarity what He is asking of you.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
Whenever I am not doing anything else, I am reading. Biography, political history, and historical fiction are my favorite things to read, and I don’t think I have ever walked past a used bookstore or library without stopping in to see what they had on their shelves.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I think the best thing we can do to encourage vocations to the priesthood within the Archdiocese of Boston is to live with fidelity and joy the life to which God has called us. Through our lived experience, we can be examples to other men who are perhaps considering the work of God in their own lives that yes, this life is worth exploring and living. That truly those who give up their lives for the Kingdom are repaid a hundredfold for their sacrifice.