School: Notre Dame Seminary2901 S. Carrollton AvenueNew Orleans, LA 70118
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta—I lived in the same house all my life before I went to Georgia Tech. My sister Shannon is two years younger than me, and is currently studying early childhood education and Spanish. I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2015 with a degree in computer science, but along the way I fell in love with the Catholic Center at Tech, I studied abroad in Barcelona, and I worked at a co-op full-time for a year.
What are your hobbies and interests
I enjoy running, ultimate Frisbee, and piano music—particularly jazz, rock, classical, and church music. I ran long distance track in high school, but since then have used running as a means of releasing stress and staying in shape. I’ve played piano since first grade, and I played trumpet in marching band in high school, and piano in jazz band. One of my favorite songs to play is “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, which I can play on the harmonica, piano, and vocals.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” Amidst every trial and inconvenience, God has sustained me. He even knew the worst situations I would encounter and somehow ordained that it would be for my ultimate good—he even uses the messiness of our lives for our greater good.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
St. Maximilian Kolbe. Ever since I encountered the devotion of Total Consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort, Mary has played a central part of my life in leading me to Jesus. St. Maximilian Kolbe so desired to be an instrument in the hands of Mary and had such a zeal for souls that he built up a huge friary, promoted Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on a massive scale using then-modern technology (i.e. magazines distributed through his own channels). His witness of joy amidst impending martyrdom at Auschwitz has challenged me to encounter Christ and his Mother more deeply so as to radiate joy amidst hardship.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
The summer before my senior year of high school, I went on a service retreat (Catholic Heart Workcamp). At the end of the week, the priest asked for anyone who was considering the priesthood or religious life to come up for a blessing. I went because it had always been in the back of my mind, but being an astronaut or a lawyer or an engineer had also been in the back of my mind. So I thought about the priesthood more until by the end of the summer, my girlfriend at the time (we had been dating about a year) pointed out to me that we hadn’t been on many dates. As I pondered why I hadn’t noticed that earlier, I realized that the more I had considered the priesthood, God had been changing my heart so that during the times I did spend with her, there was a tug on my heart that said, “This is good, but I made you for something different.” Then seeing the witness of the priests at Georgia Tech and the way that they fathered the family of the Catholic Center made me say, “That’s what I want to do with my life.”
What is seminary life like for you?
It is a blessing to live in an environment where an ordered life is encouraged. It’s definitely not easy—it’s a balancing act like any other state of life I’ve been in, but at the heart of it all is prayer and community: the rhythm of the whole community coming together every day for Morning Prayer, Mass, and Evening Prayer. All the faculty and formation advisors work with the Holy Spirit to help us discern and prepare for the priesthood—and everything is seen in the light of that goal.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
Being with people who are suffering, teaching, and giving spiritual direction. The desire of my heart is to be able to be an instrument of Jesus who says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”—to be able to build up the hearts of the discouraged and to welcome back those returning to the Father’s mercy—to be a father.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Pray, have devotion to Our Lady, and talk to a priest you trust about your vocation, and when you’re ready, contact our vocations director. Everything falls apart without prayer—when you don’t put first things first, you lose the second things as well, but when you put God first, the rest of your life can begin to fall into place. For me, I have for many years given first place in my prayer daily Mass and daily time before the Blessed Sacrament. Mary has been such a help to me—it is to her that I run when I don’t know how to pray, when I struggle with temptation, and when I don’t know what God wants for me, and her motherly presence has been such a consolation and an indispensable aid. And talking to a priest is a great help since it’s virtually impossible to discern by yourself, but someone outside of our struggles who knows how to discern can often bring great clarity. Reading To Save a Thousand Souls is also very helpful.