School: St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary
10701 S. Military Trail
Boynton Beach, FL 33436
Tell us about where you grew up and your family background?
I was born and raised in the Atlanta area. I spent most of my life going to public school and studying hard because knowledge is power. I am blessed to have been a part of a Catholic family that strengthened my faith. I usually do not have to tell people my religion. I simply mention that I am one of five kids and they understand that I come from a Catholic family. I am the middle child out of the five, but in true middle child fashion I boldly declare that I am not like “most” middle children. I have an older sister and brother, and a younger sister and brother. My parents made it a point to teach us the faith, bring us to mass at least once a week, introduce us to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, nightly rosaries, and many other aspects of Catholicism. This played a big part in my ability to hear and the respond to the Lord’s call to pursue the priesthood in a deeper way.
What are your hobbies and interests?
As a solution to most problems between me and my siblings, my mom would tell us to run a lap around our cul-de-sac. For her own sanity she would also force us outside away from her. So I became very involved in sports. Football, soccer, swimming, and basketball were some of the staples. Also, having so many siblings meant there was always someone that I could compete with. Sports and competition provided an avenue for me to grow in a deeper relationship with my siblings. Pope Saint John Paul says, “Playing sport has become very important today, since it can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing and solidarity.” This quote has rung true in my life with my hobbies of competing through sports.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
My favorite scripture verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength. And with each trial He will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” This bible verse provided me a lot of consolation in my life that the Lord is close to my heart and He knows what I can handle and what is too much. And even more than that, He cares enough to give me an escape. The Evil One cannot swallow me up in sin and temptation. This gave me great consolation through difficult times, and continues to speak to me today.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
It is very hard to pick one saint that means a lot to me. My confirmation saint is St. Francis of Assisi and I love his story of reform and gospel simplicity. But one saint that is a powerhouse and gives me courage to work tirelessly with the Lord and for the Lord is St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Her life as detailed in her Diary, speaks profoundly to my heart. It re-echoes a phrase that an old teacher would say: “It is not the quantity. It is the quality.” Her message of uniting the small, daily sufferings that life provides back to The Heart of the Father to convert souls proves that it is not about the quantity of “great God moments” but the quality of our love when we give our small gifts to The Father.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
For one summer I worked at Life Teen camp Hidden Lake. And one of the first weekends there a friend of mine asked if I had ever thought of the priesthood. I was quick with my response that I had thought about it, but realized that God had other plans for me. In reality, I had not thought much about it. However, I knew that I was a “normal” guy and not the material for the priesthood. Over that whole summer that question would not leave my head, and I ended up praying over this question all summer. After that summer, I returned to my university to finish my studies all the while praying with this idea of the priesthood. After discerning this question through graduation, getting a job, and a few years in the work place (four years total), I was talking to a good friend who called me and told me that there is a point in discernment where we need to make a step in one direction or the other. We need to make a step of faith. This idea convicted me, so I immediately hung up the phone and called the vocation office. The reality was that my heart had already made up its mind about this question, but it took my head a few years to be ok with the decision.
What is seminary life like for you?
The life of a seminarian is characterized by freedom. The whole point of the seminary is to give you the space and necessary resources to discern Gods call for your life. Through all of this communication with the Lord, true freedom has been introduced in my life. Freedom from wounds, sins, and hurts. Freedom to love in a more profound way. Freedom to make difficult decisions about my life. Freedom to hear what the Father wants to say to me. Freedom to accept responsibility in a joyful and eager way. The life of a seminarian was one of the greatest mysteries during my discernment process. Now I see how their life is structured around God and everything else flows from that.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
The priesthood is very attractive to me for a few reasons. The first reason is for the sacraments. The Eucharist and confession played integral parts in my faith life and discernment, and I am eager to serve the faithful in these two ways specifically. The second reason is to be a living example of discipleship. For better or worse, priests are looked at with a higher standard. This is good to hold men of God to a higher standard, but it hurts more when we see them fail which we have seen too much of. I look forward to living as an example of faith, hope, and charity for all those that I come in contact with. To be able to show them that a life with Christ is joyful, contagious, and fulfilling. I know I will fail in this second desire of mine, but that is why it comes second. My first hope is that I will be a man centered on the sacraments. Everything else comes forth from that.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Do not be afraid. Throughout the scriptures Christ invites us to not be afraid. Christ would not tell us to do something if it was impossible. So be not afraid in starting the conversation with a priest that you trust or the vocation office. Be not afraid to pray with the idea of the priesthood. Be not afraid to go on a come and see weekend at a seminary. Be not afraid to take any necessary steps to help in your discernment.