Saint Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA
For a long time I thought of myself as the prototypical “Average Joe.” Whenever pursuing priesthood crossed my mind, or someone asked, “Have you thought about the priesthood,” I thought that an ordinary guy like me probably wouldn’t qualify, so I never really considered it. Then a priest explained to me that Our Lord does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. The apostles and many of the saints were ordinary people who boldly responded to an extraordinary call from the Lord.
Growing up in Canby, OR, my family was very tight-knit and I recognized from a young age the importance of faith in our lives. I would sometimes fall asleep during the rosary or get upset saying evening prayers when I was tired, but I always enjoyed being at church. Becoming an altar server at a young age helped me to pay attention at Mass. I knew a lot about the faith, but it wasn’t the most important aspect of my life.
When I began attending the University of Oregon, I quickly became involved with the Catholic Newman Center on campus. I attended Mass and bible studies and made many great friends there. My knowledge of the faith was growing, however, faith was still just something I did and my real desires were of the world. I dreamed about achieving a high-paying job, status, and recognition. I was very susceptible to the culture around me and I walked around with a divided heart.
In my junior year of college, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries came to my campus. These men and women, recently out of college, dedicated years of their lives to evangelize on the college campus while also living lives of deep prayer and reliance on the Lord. They were in search of God and they were joyful, fulfilled, and free. I admired their deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.
After college, I spent three years as a FOCUS missionary. For the first time, I was striving to put God first and to say “yes” to His will. I found that following the Lord wasn’t boring or restrictive; rather, obedience to the gospel brought freedom and a greater adventure than I thought possible.
Discerning priesthood as a seminarian is where this adventure has taken me, praise be Jesus! I am still the average guy I’ve always been. The only difference, which has made all the difference, is that, by God’s grace, my eyes are set on the Lord and living in His merciful love.
My invitation and challenge to anyone reading this to give the Lord your “yes” today, especially if you are a young person considering religious/consecrated life. There is no greater adventure we could live than the one the Lord has planned for us! He does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.