School: Mundelein Seminary 1000 East Maple Avenue Mundelein, IL 60060
I have lived in Forsyth County, GA for most of my life. My parents got divorced when I was too young to remember what it was like for them to be together, and I was blessed enough to have them both in my life throughout my childhood. My dad remarried, and I have one step sister. I lived mostly with my mom growing up, but I went to my dad’s house every other weekend. When I was with my mom, we went to St. Brendan the Navigator in Cumming, GA, and when I was with my dad and step mom, we went to North Point Community Church. At both houses, we prayed together before meals and bedtime, and my parents did a great job of being loving parents and instilling in me Christian virtues. Once I was confirmed in high school, I started driving myself to Mass even on the weekends where I was at my dad’s house and considered myself to be “fully” Catholic. I graduated from Lambert High School where I played football and ran track. I went to Georgia Tech to study chemical engineering and minor in energy systems. It was at Georgia Tech that my faith really came alive with the help of the Catholic Center community and the FOCUS (Fellowship Of Catholic University Students) missionaries.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love playing sports including football, baseball, basketball, bowling, frisbee, and racquetball. I cheer for the Green Bay Packers (my whole family is from Wisconsin), I’m a big Atlanta Braves fan, and I’m always rooting for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. I was a teaching assistant at Georgia Tech, and I absolutely love teaching others and helping them understand things they want to learn. I also enjoy listening to classic rock and playing video games. I’ve gotten into listening to podcasts recently, and I’ve found it to be a great way to pass the time and learn about all kinds of things during long car rides.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.” This verse has been my favorite for a while. It has been an encouragement for me in doing things that I don’t like to do but I know that I need to do. Changing my mind set to doing this or that for the Lord helps me to put my best effort into it, because I always want to give God my best.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
St. Joseph is my boy! I chose him as my Confirmation saint because I wanted to be a good father when I had a family of my own, and he is the patron saint of fathers. As a priest, I would be a spiritual father, so he is still my favorite saint. Even though he is mentioned in the Scriptures, he has no recorded words spoken. He is completely a man of action, and I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. He has also been a big help in my discernment process. He lived out the vocation that God called him to even though it wasn’t the one he had envisioned for himself.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
I didn’t start thinking about the priesthood until I was in college. The vocations director for the archdiocese (Fr. Tim) held a discernment Q&A event at the Catholic Center, and the question popped into my head, “you’ve never given the priesthood a thought, why not think about it and pray about it now?” I began to pray about it more and more as time went by. I attended a couple discernment retreats for Georgia Tech students and began spiritual direction with the chaplain of the Catholic Center (Fr. Josh). During the fall semester of my fourth of five years at Georgia Tech, I concluded from an intellectual standpoint that I wasn’t going to be able to fully discern my vocation without going to seminary. But I still had a lot of resistances in my heart to pursuing God’s will. I went to a FOCUS conference over Christmas break that year and had a very powerful experience during Eucharistic Adoration. It was the closest I had ever felt to Jesus during prayer, and He told me He wanted me to be a priest. Then my head and my heart were connected, and I actually wanted to go to seminary rather than just saying I would do it. I finished my degree at Georgia Tech and was accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta the following year.
What is seminary life like for you?
I just started, but so far it has been great to hang out with a bunch of other guys who love Christ and are seeking to grow closer to Him.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
I look forward to being involved in people’s lives, helping them grow deeper in their faith and come to know Jesus on a personal and intimate level. I want to help people understand the beauty and genius of the Catholic faith. Since teaching became one of my passions in college, I love explaining and unpacking not just what the faith is but why the Church teaches certain things. I am also really looking forward to celebrating the Mass and making Jesus present in our world through the Eucharist and the other Sacraments.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Know that Jesus wants what is best for you and that what’s best for you will make you incredibly happy. Ask Him what He wants for you, because He wants you to be happy and knows what will make you happy. Always stay close to God through prayer. Prayer is the most important thing for any Christian because it’s how we talk to Him daily. It is okay to have doubts, fears, resistances, and concerns. Talk about them with God, your family, your friends, priests you trust. The last thing you want to do is keep everything bundled up inside. The final advice I have is to remember that seminary is not final. Seminary is a place to more fully discern God’s call to the priesthood, to see whether He is actually calling you to the priesthood or not.