St. Patrick Parish, Portland, OR
I think the image that best describes my vocation story is in John 21 when the risen Christ asked Peter, “Do you love me?” I suppose that this question was really implanted in me when I was a young boy around the time of my First Communion. I always had a desire for something different. I just never knew nor would have imagined what that entailed.
During my teenage years I tried to do the exact thing the Lord said not to do: serve two masters, God and the world. It wasn’t until I attended a Eucharistic youth congress that I was faced with a crossroads between what God desired of me and what I wanted to do. As I knelt before the good Lord in the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour, I was met with this question, “Do you love me? Am I not enough for you?” I had to choose one master, and I chose Christ. The seed of my vocation that was planted as a child had finally broken through my heart. I not only wanted to answer this call of divine love, but I wanted to do so in a complete and total way. The desire to discern the priesthood burned within me.
For two years my dear mother battled and eventually died from breast cancer. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God was forming me by acquainting me with great suffering in my grief. Yet even in the midst of it, the question resounded, “Do you love me?” How could I not love so good a God that, even though my mother’s time had come, He provided the means for her to die in the state of grace?
A couple years after my mother’s death I began to pray for and contemplate God’s will for my vocation. I eventually applied for the seminary for Archdiocese of Portland because I felt could best trust the discernment and formation program. Deo gratias, I was accepted.
For me, answering the call to the priesthood is responding to a call of divine love. It is the means wherein I can give myself totally and with an undivided heart to the Heart of Christ. It is a response to the call to sacrificial love, to unite totally to Christ crucified who is the victim of divine love. In reality, the priest is called to fall in love with Christ as Peter loved Christ. Weak, imperfect and sinful, yes. Yet even despite that, God calls. My hope is that in whatever way God calls me, I can answer with joy, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”