School: Mundelein Seminary 1000 East Maple Avenue Mundelein, IL 60060
I was born in northwest Alabama in the Shoals area, but I was raised in Flowery Branch, Georgia and graduated from Flowery Branch High School in 2012. I don’t think I have finished growing up! Honestly some of my greatest personal growth happened in Dahlonega, Georgia where my home parish, Saint Luke the Evangelist is located. I was raised by devout Baptist parents (who are awesome in so many ways) and became Catholic my senior freshmen year of college.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I am a bookworm! There really isn’t much that I won’t read and there isn’t much that I’m not curious about. I love to sing, and there is rarely a moment where I don’t have a song in my head. My primary interests involve exploring, hiking, camping, getting into local history (the best kind, it’s always around you), and meeting new people.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Who is your favorite saint and why?
My favorite saint is Pope Saint John Paul II, his biography and writings were really one of the primary drivers of my conversion to Catholicism. One of his go to sayings was “Be not afraid!” that is certainly a message that I needed at that time, and one that I think everyone needs to hear in today’s world.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
I was not raised as a Catholic but as a Southern Baptist, but I always had an intellectual fascination with the Church. It was not until I read the biography of John Paul II “Witness to Hope,” that I finally decided that I needed to attend a Mass. After that the deal was sealed, I had fallen in love with the Church and with the liturgy. My call to the priesthood was a story that was a little more complicated, it was never a singular moment where the skies opened and there was a voice that said “Be a priest!” It was a steady tug that would not go away, a thought that would not leave my mind. Eventually I decided I had to talk to my pastor who pointed me in the right direction, the vocations office.
What is seminary life like for you?
I’m still new, so to answer that question fully I’ll need some more experience first!
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
I look most forward to being able to be with the people who need me the most, those who are lost in darkness and need a comforting presence in a world that is too often cold and callous. The greatest testament to the gospel of Christ is a Christian fully living their call in the world, that’s what I want to do, that’s who I want to be.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
The best advice I can give is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or just to reach out to a trusted priest, youth minister, or the vocations director. The whole point of discernment is to discover your vocation whether that is to the priesthood or not, and the Church is here to help. Don’t be afraid to explore the idea of being a priest, but don’t let the fear that it might not be what God is calling you to hold you back.