St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA
My journey to consider the priesthood began several months after I had converted to the Catholic faith. My priest asked me if I had considered the priesthood, and I was struck by his question. I definitively stated, “Father, I have no intention of becoming a priest.”
For the next several weeks I noticed that my prayers and spiritual readings kept circling back to the beauty of the priesthood, and several friends and parishioners asked if I had considered the priesthood. I thought the Lord was doing this to remind me to pray and love my priests more, so I began to do so. As time went on I began to realize that maybe God was calling me to discern the priesthood. It scared and frustrated me, so during prayer one afternoon I addressed the Lord and said, “Lord, I will not do this.” In that moment, I felt the pain of disobedience in my heart but dismissed it.
The priesthood kept coming up, and I continued saying no until I felt so troubled by the conviction of disobedience that I felt an overwhelming need to go to confession. After confession, I went back to my priest and told him what was going on. He told me that there was a discernment retreat with the Archbishop that next weekend and that I should go. I felt shocked! What were the odds that there would be a discernment retreat the weekend after I wrestled with the idea?
After the discernment retreat, I convinced myself that the priesthood was not for me, but the calling persisted. My prayer became, “Lord, I do not want this, but if it is your will, I will do it.” I then asked if my priest would consider becoming my spiritual director, and despite my fears I began to discern seriously the priesthood.
In time, I found that my objections to the priesthood resulted from my own misunderstandings about what the priesthood is and various fears about what I thought my life would be if I discerned the vocation. One book that helped to re-frame and correct my misunderstandings was The Priest Is Not His Own by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He helped me to see how beautiful the life and calling of the priesthood is, and that God will give us the grace to pursue the calling that He has for our lives. It was at this point that my vocational prayer changed to, “Lord, I would love to offer my life to you in this way, but if it is not your will, please take it from me.”
By God’s grace, He has continued to lead me in the direction of the priesthood and has continued to increased my love of the Church. I am excited to be in seminary, to continue my discernment, and to meet more of the Faithful in the Archdiocese of Portland. Please know how grateful we are for your support and prayers. To quote St. Ambrose, “He [God] made them, the vicars of His love.”