North American College, Rome, Italy
My first instance of hearing God calling to me was the first time I went to adoration at a day-long retreat my senior year of high school. After an outpouring of love and joy, I knew I was called, but I had no idea for what task. I had already built up a strong Catholic community in my youth group and actively sought out a similar community when I went to college in the Newman center at UC Davis. In this time my faith grew immeasurably; I learned to actively consider my faith at a much deeper level, to question and seek answers that I was always able to find in the rich intellectual traditions of the church.
The calling from God that I felt shifted from purely a faith journey for myself to a desire to give back what I had received, but it did not turn towards priestly discernment until halfway through my senior year of college. I was nearing the completion of my bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, but the closer I got to the end the more I could tell that it wasn’t the right path for me. I had never truly considered priesthood before, but one night the thought popped into my head and I could not get rid of it. It was simultaneously attractive and terrifying as it quieted the discordant feelings that I had, but meant that I would have to truly surrender my will over to God’s direction. I needed to give up all the plans and aspirations I had for my life, which at first brought me great pain, but later brought peace.
The two greatest contributions to my discernment have been tight-knit, welcoming Catholic communities and the great depths of logical and intellectual reasoning behind all Catholic teachings which always have another layer. Wherever my journey takes me, I know that I will always seek to foster and strengthen communities just as they have strengthened me. I will also strive to spread understanding of the truth such that we Catholics can confidently assert what we believe and why we believe it.
I am answering a vocational call to seminary because I believe God is calling me towards this study, and has been for much of my life, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. Entering seminary will enable me to grow continually as I learn about God and how he makes His will known to us. I expect that living in a seminary community will especially help improve my prayer life, which can always be improved. The community of faith is far stronger than the faith of one individual. I know that those around me will bolster my faith just as I will support theirs.