School: Pontifical North American College00120 Vatican City State, Europe
I was not born and raised in Georgia, but I do not consider myself a transplant either. I was born in Alabama, but my family moved often. Almost every summer though I visited my grandparents in Alpharetta. It was always a treat when my grandmother would take me to Dahlonega to pan for gold at the old mine, eat fudge in the main square, or go tubing on the Chestatee River. When I was a bit older, I decided to attend Georgia Tech. In short, even though Georgia has not always been my home, I hope it will be my home from now on.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love to play golf. My Dad taught me how to play when I was very young. I remember one time I was practicing my swing in the living room, and I had tried to make sure there was nothing around me that I could break. Unfortunately I had not checked behind me, so as I brought the club back I shattered the fish tank. My Mom was upset to say the least, but when my Dad got home he was so happy that I wanted to practice my swing that he was not even upset that I broke the fish tank.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
Isaiah 53:5 “by his wounds we were healed.” It is taken from the Suffering Servant portion of Isaiah. When this passage is read in light of passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is a beautiful example of the New Testament fulfilling the Old, and the Old Testament illuminating the New. Isaiah never saw Jesus, but Jesus truly is the suffering servant that Isaiah spoke about.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
St. Stephen is my favorite saint, as well as my confirmation saint. When he is first mentioned in Acts 6:5 he is described as a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. These are qualities that I seek for myself. I desire to be a man of faith, a man who trusts God completely, and a man who acts according to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At his death he even asks God to forgive those about to kill him. Stephen has followed Jesus Christ to the point of even echoing Jesus’ words from the cross. I hope every day to be more like Stephen, because every day he sought to be more like Christ.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
My first year at Georgia Tech I went to Sunday Mass, but I was not really part of the community at the Catholic Center. I did not feel like I was a part of that community until my second year when I went on a fall break “mission trip” with the Catholic Center to serve the homeless of Atlanta. Through that I met a great group of guys who prayed every morning together and invited me to join them. They were pros who would pray for a full hour together mostly in silence in the chapel. I started off doing ten minutes, and slowly let that grow over the course of a year to a full hour. This time in prayer is where I was able to listen to God and hear His call. Of course I was very blessed to have the witness of two chaplains at Georgia Tech who both loved and served the people of God.
What is seminary life like for you?
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, and as such will always be at the center. Seminary is unique in that around this center are the four “pillars of formation”. There is the academic pillar which involves an education in philosophy and theology. There is the human pillar which involves the health and well-being of a person as an individual and as part of a community. There is the pastoral pillar which involves caring for and ministering to others as modeled by the Good Shepherd. Finally there is the spiritual pillar which involves growing in one’s love and trust of God. Superficially a seminary can seem like a university. You go, you take classes, and you graduate. From my perspective seminary is about more than that. It is a time of shared community with other men seeking to do the will of our Father in Heaven by answering His call to us toward priesthood.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
I look forward to being able to bring the healing of Jesus Christ through the sacrament of Confession. I look forward to being an instrument of God’s forgiveness and mercy in this world. We are all made for freedom and the confessional is the place to break the bonds of sin and death. What joy and hope there is to know that our God never tires of welcoming us home again should we stray from him. He is the father from Luke 15 that constantly watches for his child’s return and while we are still far off he races in joy to meet us.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
First of all, live the sacraments. Going to Mass and Confession are indispensable. Secondly, try to set aside a few minutes each day to listening to God. If you want to know whether He is calling you to something then you need to be listening. Lastly, Catholicism is a team sport. There is no need to try and figure out if you are called to priesthood by yourself. Talk with a friend who can be understanding and supportive yet challenge you to be serious in discerning the priesthood. Talk with your pastor. He will be able to answer your questions and give you a clearer idea of what the priesthood looks like.