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
My path to the seminary was long and filled with avoidance of God's path for me. I received my first call when I was 17 years old and turned away for many years, I was not ready but God was waiting for me to acknowledge that my chosen path was not the one he intended. While we all have much to thank God for, the fact that he never gave up on me or my vocation is something that I think about frequently. It is remarkable how happy I am here at St. John's. I am sure that joy will continue in my future priesthood, God willing.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
There are three priests who greatly influenced me: my childhood pastor, Fr. Peter O'Hara, and my current pastor, Fr. Jeremy St. Martin, and Fr. Shawn Allen. They taught me much. Fr. Peter was the best childhood pastor someone could have and Fr. Jeremy taught me that the work of a priest is hard, but worthwhile. Another priest who helped me along this path was Fr. Shawn Allen, who said to me when I asked him if I had a vocation, "We all think you have a vocation Colin. We were just waiting for you to figure that out." It was additional fuel for the fire of discernment which lit my path to the seminary.
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 the most important part of a seminarian's life. It focuses you in a way that I could never imagine before I entered the seminary. If you work to develop your prayer life, the rest will follow. It can be intimidating when you first enter the seminary and try and compare your prayer life to others, but with many things it is counterproductive. If you are patient and try to develop your prayer life, the consolation you receive will be worth the effort.
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?
My only advice is to be honest; with yourself, the process, and most importantly God. You can sail over anything in your way if you submit to His will. My own discernment was long and there were many bumps in the road. But in a way I am glad that my fortitude was tested. All obstacles that came my way passed through continual prayer and the help of God.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I really enjoy the prayer life here and, for me, finally following God's path has given me so much joy and peace. Surprisingly, I have really made an effort to bolster more fraternity amongst my classmates. I lived alone for a long time but I come from a large family so I am quite comfortable in community. We go on walks together, hiking, sports events, and the movies. For some of us we will be working together for the rest of our lives so we better learn to get along now!
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
For me, it was taking the "leap of faith" and facing my vocation head on. Once you do though, the rewards are worth the stress of any hesitation. And many men will face adversity from their families, but in the end your family will come around.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes?
What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?I love ice hockey, hiking, and reading. I spend most of my free time walking with my brother seminarians or other fraternity building activities. I also really enjoy reading about the history of the Archdiocese of Boston and how it fits into the universal Church.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the archdiocese of Boston?
The only advice I can give is, come. A seminarian told me when I was visiting last year; "there is only so much discernment that you can do outside these walls." He was and is right, whether you reach ordination or not, I have never heard of someone regretting their time at the seminary.