Saint Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA
As soon as I began serving at the Mass when I was seven, the pious ladies at church would ask me, “Have you considered the priesthood?” and say, “You would make a wonderful priest.” These remarks, reading the lives of the saints, my experience of good priests, and my family’s positive attitude toward priests, all prompted me to consider the priestly vocation.
When I was fourteen, I was impressed by a couple diocesan priests whom I recognized as talented and passionate men giving up career and family to serve the Lord and His Church. The beauty and greatness of the priestly vocation was most keen during Mass when I saw the newly consecrated host lying meekly on the corporeal. I was struck by the total humility of the Lord as well as the privilege of the priest.
I felt a desire for this vocation, but with a degree of uncertainty. I wanted God to just tell me what He wanted me to do. My mother said that if I earnestly asked God to show me His Will, He would. Right then, I made a simple prayer for this intention. A week later, a Vietnamese sister approached me after Mass and said to me, “God told me to tell you He wants you to be a priest.” I was floored. I took it as a clear message and for some time I was certain that I was called to be a priest.
I studied at the Catholic University of America with the intention to enter seminary after college. It was a wonderful and formative time. I soon met a woman whom I greatly admired, which threw my vocation back into question. As I studied marriage and saw its beauty, I understood the sacrifice of celibacy more clearly. I told a priest about some of my doubts and he said, “Jeremy, I think you would make a fine father, but you would make a better priest.” Eventually, I decided to confront the question of my vocation. I found an excellent spiritual director to assist in my discernment.
One day after Mass, I read one of the Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales about God’s Will. It made clear that following God’s plan for our lives is the bull’s-eye of sanctity. As I walked back to my apartment and prayed the fifth joyful mystery, I was filled with great peace and joy. I felt as though I had lost the Christ Child in Jerusalem, occasionally catching a glimpse of Him through the crowded streets, but now I had finally found Him in the temple, and He was inviting me to join Him in His Father’s work. I let go of my own will and decided to pursue the priesthood.
I do not know how God, the divine potter, plans to shape me as His clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6). I ask you to pray that I be malleable in His Hands through seminary formation.