I grew up in Southern California as the oldest of five kids. My family prayed every night, never missed Sunday Mass, and prayed the rosary occasionally. The first time I remember considering the priesthood was in second grade when we were given a career sheet in school. We were asked to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I answered, “a priest,” because I wanted to share what I loved about Catholicism and I knew that priests celebrated Mass and the Sacraments. My interest in the priesthood continued to grow as I began altar serving, which became a large factor in my discernment. I was able to get closer to the Mass and understand it more as time went on. I loved the graces of the Mass and wanted to share them with others.
In middle school I started to struggle with more temptations and I believed that I wasn’t worthy of the priesthood. My faith was still very important to me, but I was looking at other careers. Yet, the thought of giving a homily or celebrating Mass kept returning to my mind. I realized that God was trying to show me something, so eventually I began to investigate for more information.
At Eucharistic adoration I asked God which career I should choose. While looking at the priest elevating the host, I clearly heard, “That.” My pastor recommended the book To Save a Thousand Souls. I read inspiring stories of priestly ministry, of serving Christ, and of serving others. Being present for people as a spiritual father was really attractive. I learned that the priesthood is totally separate from a career. It is truly a vocation that some are called to. I continued to meet with Father Gregory from time to time, but it was with that book that I did much of my discernment. There were also little prayer-based discernment tests in the book that seemed to point to my continued discernment of the priesthood in the seminary.
I entered the seminary for another diocese out of high school. Once I arrived, I found out very quickly that the isolated culture of priests in that diocese is not what I am called to. I think my vocation is to a diocesan life in a parish with a community of priests for support. When I learned about the Archdiocese of Portland I grew attached to it. I started listening to the Archbishop’s radio show, “The Voice of the Shepherd,” and I could see that he was leading the priests and his diocese well. I wanted to be formed by and follow him as a priest. I came on the Archbishop’s Discernment Retreat and that was the trigger point. I could see that he cared very much for his seminarians and priests. God willing, I will continue learning, discerning, and be ordained a priest in this Archdiocese. To God be the glory.