by Fr. Jared
“Have you ever thought about becoming a Priest?” This was the question a newly ordained priest asked me the first time I met him the day he arrived at his new assignment in my parish. Without missing a beat I replied “Absolutely not!” I had to go to confession right after because it was the biggest lie I ever spoke and to a priest! As we approach our Quo Vadis Retreat and we pray for its success and an increase in vocations, I would like to share with you briefly my vocation story.
My vocation is a gift from God which was enriched by my family. As a child my family was a faithful Catholic family. We attended Mass every Sunday, attended Catholic schools, and prayed at home on special occasions. As a young boy I attended daily mass with my grandmother and was very attracted to the Mass and the priests of my parish. I had many positive influences by good, holy, and faithful priests. The diocesan priests who served in my home parish and a few in particular, played monumental roles in my vocation. These priests showed me what it was to be a good priest. As an altar boy, as well as working in the rectory throughout high school, gave me a great insight into the priesthood. I saw a human side of the priest that many people do not get to see. I saw that these were regular men called by God to do extraordinary things.
Despite being attracted to the priesthood as a young boy I began to lose interest in high school. At that time that newly ordained priest asked me that important question which I responded “Absolutely not!” There were many other distractions which kept me away from my faith and ultimately my vocation. Throughout college I was more interested in spending time with friends and dating than I was in going to Mass. Priesthood did not fit into my plans at that time. That question posed to me by my parish priest years before had changed my life however. Although I tried to avoid answering that question for ten years, I never forgot it. God would not allow me to forget it. No matter how hard I tried to push it away in high school and college, God kept on calling me.
For fear of admitting that I may have a vocation, and telling my family and friends, I decided to pursue a career. I always enjoyed being around people and helping people, so when I was in college I decided to begin studying to be a speech therapist. After college I entered graduate school. While I was there, I came to the conclusion that God was calling me to do more than help people as a speech therapist. He wanted me to help people change as a priest. I began to speak to friends that were priests, as well as a spiritual director, about how I was feeling. I prayed a lot, attended daily Mass and went to confession regularly. All of these things allowed me to discern the will of God in my life. I finished graduate school and worked for a year and a half and then I entered the seminary.
As a seminarian I became the happiest I had ever been in my life. Doing the will of God was very exciting and it gave me great joy. I continue to experience that joy and satisfaction each day as a priest, especially celebrating the Eucharist. We live in a culture that often dissuades us from faith and religion. It even dissuades us from making any kind of lifetime commitment, which affects both marriage and priesthood. I could have easily been dissuaded, but that question from that one priest and the love and support of my family changed it all. Don’t be afraid to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Don’t be afraid to speak to your sons and grandsons about the priesthood. Like any vocation in life, whether it be married life or single life, the priesthood has its ups and downs, but in the end knowing that we are doing the will of God keeps us going and gives us the joy and peace we all desire.