North American College, Rome, Italy
My parents took their job as our first educators very seriously, instilling in us a deep love for Christ and His Church from a very young age. My father led our daily family rosary, and my mother took us to daily Mass whenever the opportunity arose. I attended Catholic school from Kindergarten to 8th grade and remember discussing the idea of being a priest with others very frequently.
Despite this wonderful upbringing, my faith became lukewarm during my college years. My relationship with God was very superficial and selfish. I allowed myself to fall away from Christ and His Church and I focused on the things of this world. In spiritual matters, I floundered through my undergraduate studies and my first two years of law school.
In my third and final year of law school I was engaged to be married. My fiancée and I were planning on marrying after my graduation, but she very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This event put me at a crossroads in my faith. The Lord is merciful, and He used this tragedy to draw me closer to him. Through His grace I began to pray and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more regularly. This habit eventually led me to more formal discernment.
I have always looked to Our Lady for comfort and consolation, and have never doubted her intercession on my behalf. After I sat for the California Bar Exam, I took a poorly planned trip to Ireland, which became an unintended pilgrimage. Our Lady delivered on my desire to visit a place where she had appeared, and I was surprised to be at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock on the Feast of her Nativity! This tremendous blessing was another catalyst in my discernment.
As I watched the papal conclave that elected Pope Francis, the Holy Spirit delivered an epiphany. When the College of Cardinals began processing into the Sistine Chapel while the choir chanted the Litany of the Saints, I felt a stirring in my heart that was undeniable. A flood of emotions and memories of my childhood faith swarmed over me and brought me to tears. In this moment, I could feel the Lord asking me to give of myself more deeply to Him and His Church. I decided that I would begin a more formal discernment process, which resulted in my entering seminary to continue to discern His will for me in my life.
The Lord has placed a great desire on my heart to be a small instrument in His salvific work. I continue to pray and discern with the Church whether I am to share in His ministerial priesthood. It would give me no greater joy than to serve the people of God in this capacity.