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
Two of the most important factors were investing in virtuous friendships and having an experienced spiritual director. Regarding my friends, I had learned some years ago that surrounding myself with others who were consciously pursuing a more generous life in Christ motivates and challenges me to do the same. A spiritual life can plateau if you do no have examples to follow and after finding those examples here in Boston I invested in them by staying a year longer after my Master’s Degree and this led to my entering the seminary.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
The joy and fidelity of my friends along with my spiritual director gave me great encouragement and challenged me to grow closer to Christ and this greater intimacy with Christ allowed me to see with clarity what He was asking of 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?
The sacraments and devotions such as the rosary provide essential graces to growth in our relationship with Christ but as St. Josemaria Escriva notes: the door keeper to the interior life is silence. Silent mental prayer is essential for us to be able to see our weaknesses and our brokenness which we can then offer to Christ. St. Paul notes: when I am weak, then I am strong. When we recognize our weakness, then Christ becomes our strength and this is necessary for a seminarian who is preparing to be the presence Christ for the people in his future parish.
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 will keep this practical: find an experienced spiritual director and meet with him twice a week; read Fr. Jacques Philippe’s “Time For God” (very short book) and start adding at least 15 minutes of mental prayer to your day, as the book will encourage you to do; and lastly, don’t over intellectualize discernment, if you see that God could be calling you out for a special vocation (read Matthew 19:12, celibacy is a special call and Christ notes that: “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”) respond by taking practical steps such as talking about it with your spiritual director, going to discernment events that the Vocations Office organizes, talking with a Vocation Director and follow up with many other things that do not commit you to becoming a priest but allows God to clarify if this is a call for you.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
Unfolding as a more complete version of myself, i.e. being a better Desmond because I am more fully living out the plan God has created me for. Additionally, living with friends, has been a great blessing.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
A lack of external encouragement from friends and priests, in words and deed, to grow in the spiritual life by giving our time more generously to God.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I enjoy reading non-fiction but when I need a break from academic things, I will practice close-up magic with cards. However, my favorite thing to do with my time is to engage in conversation with my friends.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
Spiritual direction and a commitment to mental prayer..